Potatoes are one of the staple foods in Kenya and some other African countries just like maize and it yields profits as well, though venturing into potato farming might be easier for those already in agriculture but for beginners it may not be the same because there should be a basic knowledge of what seasons and soil is best for its cultivation, how they are planted and the variety to go for.
Nyandarua County is the leading producer of Irish potato in Kenya. However, in other areas in Kenya, though potato is a high end product, potato farming isn’t practiced as much. According to 2018 statistics on potato farming, farmers are able to make good money when they decide to produce potato commercially. Last year we witnessed lee production of potatoes which made a bag of 90kg to skyrocket. It is estimated that potatoes business exchange more than ksh. 50 billion in a single year.
The below tips which guide anyone that aspires to go into potato farming with the basic steps he or she requires.
- In starting this kind of business, you should know that though potatoes can grow well in many soil types that there those considered as the “best soil” type for effective cultivation of potatoes (soils that drains well),so it might be wise to inquire from other local farmers to know what kind you will be going for and the soil that best fits the species of potatoes available in your location. The soil type will also help you in selecting the best farm suitable for its cultivation.
- Know the right time (season) for the kind of potatoes (sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes etc.,) you want to farm, though potatoes can grow well anytime, to plant it in the right season makes it yields better and also it will help to prevent or minimize the diseases that affect potatoes farming. Potatoes grow well during the rainy season but that doesn’t mean it can’t still grow in other seasons if there is a proper irrigation system available. The irrigation system is mostly used in the northern part of Kenya because of their low rainfall.
- The startup capital in this kind of farming is really not much as expected once the land has been acquired except you are going into intensive farming that will require lots of farming machinery and equipment for the farming activities. So while going into potatoes farming just as any other kind of agricultural production, make sure you have an adequate amount of money that will sustain you till you start harvesting, and making a profit from the product sales.
- Prior to the time of planting, make sure that you have already cleared the land and prepare it for the planting season; also make sure that you buy the right potatoes spud or seed potatoes for the kind of potatoes you want to grow. Buying the right seed will help you buy the suitable fertilizer as well as other weed and insect control chemicals needed such as insecticides and herbicides.
- Knowing about all these, without having a basic knowledge on how potatoes are being cultivated is a big flop because planting wrongly will make all your struggles to be in vain as you will end up gaining eventually nothing. So while you are making all these plans make sure you know how to plant potatoes as they are grown best when in rows, this also includes the inches deep and wide, how to cut off the stems, when it harvest is to be due and lots more.
Potatoes farming yield profit in Kenya much than expected, but every farmer of such food crops should be on the lookout because they are easily affected by pests and other fungal diseases which might reduce its yield, but will the appropriate and basic steps as mentioned above, the profit made after sales will be as many times over than the starting capital.
In potato farming, success is almost guaranteed but you must pay attention and work hard.