Low-cost and easy-to-build greenhouse structures allow to multiply large amounts of healthy sweet potato vines and cuttings in time before the onset of the growing season. Tent-styled greenhouses combined with manual or drip irrigation enable to maintain optimal soil moisture, and the screen nets keep vines free of pests and diseases. Farmers can also use the greenhouses for retaining a stock of sweet potato vines as starter material and thereby avoid degeneration of planting material.
Tent-style designs of greenhouses minimize costs of construction as they can be built with cheaper screen netting and locally available building materials. Multiplying vines and cuttings for sweet potato inside the greenhouses enhances production of tubers because it ensures that sufficient planting material is available to farmers and allows to plant a larger area of land with the crop. Sweet potato vines and cuttings that have been nursed using greenhouses are of high quality and free of pathogens which increases their survival upon planting, a critical stage in the production of the crop.
Net tunnels protect cutting from insect vectors and allow them to harden before transplanting to the open field. They are especially useful in regions with high pest and virus pressures and where dry/warm conditions are creating large risks of planting vines directly on farms.
A tent-styled greenhouse is made of commonly used screen nets and construction materials. The design of net tunnels can be easily adapted in accordance to the need of farmers and their financial resources, with different sizes ranging from 2 square meter to an entire field. Under good management, the low-cost greenhouses can last more than 3 years.
Constructing tent-styled greenhouses for multiplying sweet potato vines is not complicated and requires little training. The build involves erecting posts, installing cables, sinking cable anchors, connecting cables and anchors, stretching screen nets and burying edges of screen nets. A drip irrigation system connected to a water tank can be installed for maintaining optimal soil moisture.
Orange-fleshed sweet potato, Community-based cutting production