March 1, 2013 by sokoshambani Leave a comment
High Altitudes areas are More Favorable for Potato Farming
Since the introduction of the potato in East Africa by the British colonial officers, the potato has been widely used as food crop in Kenya. The result has been the crop rising to the second staple food in the country after maize.
Central province produces most of the potato in Kenya. Meru districts around the slopes of Mt. Kenya, Dundora, Mau Narok, and Molo are also potato planting regions in the Eastern and Rift Valley provinces. The regions are most favorable for potato planting since they are high altitude areas which means that the soil is naturally slightly acid and moist as is required for potato planting.
Kenya, in the 1990s, was the fifth largest potato producer in Sub Saharan Africa. The average production margin was reported to be 7.7ton/ha at the time. Until 2008, the production rate had increased to an impressive 9.5ton/ha. This was short lived due to the many constrains facing potato farming which saw the production rate drop to 7.7ton/ha as in the 90s.
This drop is attributed to among others, lack of certified seeds, declining soil fertility, climate change, high input costs, pests and diseases, marketing constrains and cropping calendar.
Majority of potato farmers are small scale farmers cultivating plots of around 108,000 ha. The over 500,000 small scale farmers produce over 1million tonnes in the two growing seasons. This is still below the expected production rate, were the growing conditions improved.
Standard Desiree Potato Seed
Small scale farmers depend on the crop for both home consumption and as a trade commodity. It is through growing potatoes that they have been able to feed their families and educate their children.
Potato farming will continue to be popular among Kenyans with fast foods restaurants and potato processors increasingly raising the demand for a healthy high quality crop. Though farmers have little they can do about some of the constraints facing potato farming, they are not oblivious of the demands made by the market.
The government and the private sector are coming together to solve the problem of lack of quality seed and fertilizers, and to ensure that they are not only locally and readily available but also affordable. Potato farmers are also advised to take their soil for profiling before the planting season to be informed on changes in their soil and how its fertility can be improved during the specific season.
Potato farming, with the right pillars in place, will not only push forward the vision of food security and cushion Kenyans on the continually rising prices of cereals, but also improve the economic state of potato farmers and increase the country’s GDP significantly.
Potatoes growing business in Kenya requires capital amounting to Ksh 62,000 per acre in suitable areas which includes farm inputs and labor. 0ne acre will produce a minimum of 90 bags sold at on farm price of a of 1800/= per bag giving returns of ksh162, 000 minus ksh 62,000 cost of production gives net returns of about 100,000/= from every acre of potatoes in 3 months. Currently, the major buyers are brokers who buy at about the Ksh 1800/ bag and market traders. Potatoes are one of the most popular multipurpose vegetables grown by Kenyan farmers’. They are great for crisps,frying, roasting and mashing. To find out the seed tuber variety suitable for your area you can either consult agriculture experts, or conduct a research among the farmers’ in your area asking them what variety performs well in the local soils and what they like to grow. Growing potatoes is easy, profitable and gives returns within 3 months. Under good management, you can harvest 120 bags [100kg bags] per acre .The high yielding tuber varieties popular among Kenyan farmers’ include Sanghi,Tigoni, Asante, Kenya mpya, Kenya karibu.
In Kenya the farmers’ have a huge business