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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 21: I East African Horticultural Symposium

POTATO GROWING IN KENYA

Author:   C.C. Ballestrem
Abstract:
Potatoes in Kenya are an important subsistence crop; there are approximately 25 000 to 30 000 hectares grown annually, half of the crop is harvested in the first six months and the other half in the second six months. There has been a slight increase in potato production, mainly due to the growth in population but also to a diversification of crops in growing areas with favourable climatic conditions where maize has been the main crop. Despite some disease problems, Kenya can be classified as a potato growing country with a high potential.

The most favourable climatic conditions are found in areas with a yearly rainfall of between 850 mm and 1200 mm, at altitudes between 1 500 m and 2 800 m above sea level. These areas are situated mainly in the Central, Rift Valley and Eastern provinces of Kenya.

Most of the potato crop is currently grown on a subsistence basis and relatively small amounts are sold in the urban and village markets. Per capita consumption is estimated to be 10 to 15 kg, compared with 100 kg in Western Europe and 150–200 kg in Eastern Europe per annum (Robinson, 1970). The average yield achieved by the small-scale farmer is approximately 6 to 7 tons per hectare. Large-scale farmers generally achieve higher yields, approximately 10 to 14 tons per hectare. Efficient husbandry and the use of improved planting material could increase average yields to 16–20 tons per hectare since yields of up to 40 tons per hectare have already been achieved (Ann. Report, Kenya, 1966).

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