The rise of the ‘Kamote Queen’: How this millennial mom turned planting sweet potatoes into a Php450k/month success

A 41-year-old mom earned the title “Kamote Queen” in her village in Dulag, Leyte for her successful sweet potato farming, which she started during the lockdown.

While many were chill couch potatoes, binge-watching Netflix during the lengthy COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020, 41-year-old Brenda Avelino was busy planting sweet potatoes instead.

Now, the crops she painstakingly nurtured four years ago are raking in Php450,000 every month, earning her the title of “Kamote Queen” in her village in the coastal town of Dulag, Leyte.

It was actually her father-in-law who planted and traded the crop. When he passed away more than 10 years ago, the family had to halt the business.

Fueled by the challenges of the pandemic and the need to make ends meet for her family of seven children, Brenda, together with her husband, saw an opportunity to revive it.

“Since life was hard during the pandemic, we planted kamote. After harvest, we drove around the villages in an old tricycle to sell the commodity,” related Brenda in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Not content with just selling her own harvest, Brenda rallied over a hundred farmers in neighboring villages to join her in cultivating sweet potatoes on some 120 hectares of farmland. The couple would buy their harvests, which they would sell to traders and consumers as far as Metro Manila. With her keen eye for opportunity and a heart for her community, she was able to expand her business, acquiring more land for cultivation, funding other farmers, and setting up a nursery for sweet potato varieties recommended by the National Seed Industry Council. From trading a mere 800 kilos a month, Brenda and her husband now sell up to 15,000 kilos of kamote at Php30 per kilo. They take home a net income of Php240,000 every month. “Don’t underestimate the value of camote because the crop can change lives. In the past, I hated farming because it’s very tiring, but I love it now,” said Brenda.