Q: How did you start working on this story? Was it through a particular contact or tip?
EB: I had been looking for possible story angles which captured stories of women in the rural area with enterprising skills, working together or solo to change their lives. So I contacted several people, asking around for enterpris[ing] women with inspirational stories, and it was NARO, the National Agricultural Research Organization, who tipped me about Ms. Sekiyanja.
Q: Did you learn about sweet potatoes while reporting, or did you conduct further research?
EB: I had authored a story before about the orange-fleshed sweet potato as a cheaper means rural women would opt for to enrich their children’s diets with dietary iron, and then this turned out to be a chance to personify rural development with the angle of women taking the lead using agriculture to fight poverty and put bread on the table.
Q: What challenges did you face when reporting or writing the article?
EB: Women are not forthcoming, which makes reporting about issues that involve them a little hard, but then one would need good interpersonal skills to work around this challenge. That’s how I was able to capture this story – by getting them to open up.
Q: How were you able to get women to open up to talk about sweet potato farming?
EB: …I got the women talk about sweet potatoes by first of all appreciating that they were doing something developmental and their hard work was worth the sweat. Slowly I was able to break the ice, and slowly they got to open up and share views on this project, [and] tell me about how they came up with the idea and why it had to be orange-fleshed sweet potato and not any other crop.
When they get convinced that you might actually be a driver of a chance for them to see change, then they’ll want to open up. ...I think the best way to get women to talk is getting good ice-breakers and understanding their stories. Otherwise, they’d prefer to leave it to their husbands, being family heads, to do the talking, yet their (women’s) voices are very vital, since they have come out to become bread earners and are ultimately the people in the lead of rural development.
Q: Since the article was published, have you met other women who have reaped the benefits of sweet potatoes?
EB: Yes, there is another woman I profiled from Luweero who has unfortunately been let down by the changing weather patterns.
Q: Do you plan to follow up on this story?
EB: Definitely, I would like to follow up on it.