The value chain for seed and ware potatoes in Kenya: Opportunities for development

Janssens, S.R.M.; Wiersema, S.G.; Goos, H.J.Th.; wiersma, W.


In Kenya potato is an important food crop, second after maize. Potatoes are grown on 128,000 ha per year with average yields of about 8 tonnes per ha. The yield is far below its po-tential and should be improved to enhance food security. Of all potato growers in Kenya, 98% are characterised as small-scale farmers, producing less than 0.4 ha of potatoes per year per farm (total of two planting seasons). They produce 83% of the national production. Lack of good quality seed is a main reason for low yields. The fast-track seed project aims to improve availability of certified seed. Imported seed needs to be multiplied locally once or twice to reduce the cost price and make it affordable for small-scale growers. It is estimated that there is potential for at most 1,000 ha of professional seed production in Kenya to meet the market demand for certified seed. In Kenya about 98% of ware potatoes are sold for 'fresh' consumption. For industrial processing the most favourable opportunities are the production of crisps and fresh - not frozen - French fries. To change the low-input low-output strategy of many small-scale farmers linkages between producers and markets need to be improved. In the short term, improvement of potato growing and crop management should receive higher priority than storage and mechanisation. Storage and mechanisation should be adapted to local conditions and needs. Two cases have been indicated in which investments in professional cooled storage facilities are necessary; - storage of seed potatoes of varieties with a long dormancy period; - storage of ware potatoes for processing industry and some high-end retailers. Long-term seed storage in modern stores required for varieties with long dormancy increases the cost price of seed by 50% compared with short-term storage in diffused light stores. This makes short dor-mancy an important trait for potato varieties in Kenya, where potatoes are planted during two growing seasons. Machinery supplied for potato growing in Kenya should be geared to local needs. Higher yields and more multiplications of imported seed reduce the cost price of seed potatoes produced in Kenya. The cost price of imported seed after two multiplications is competitive with locally produced seed from minitubers after three multiplications. This report describes the current situation of the potato sector in Kenya and opportunities for further de-velopment. The study focuses on possibilities of the Dutch agribusiness to facilitate these developments. Existing information has been collected, although information on potato production was not easily availa-ble. In addition, during a mission to Kenya stakeholders were visited and interviewed. This resulted in cost- price calculations for seed potato production (short and long-term storage, imported seed and minitubers) and market information.