Potato Production in Kenya: Farming Systems and Production Constraints

  •  Jane Jane Muthoni    
  •  Hussein Shimelis    
  •  Rob Melis    


Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) is a major food and cash crop in the Kenyan highlands, widely grown by small-scale farmers. Farmer practices and constraints in potato production differ from region to region. A survey was conducted in three major potato producing districts namely Bomet, Molo and Meru Central with the following objectives: 1) to document farmers’ practices, key potato production and marketing constraints, 2) to determine farmers’ potato cultivar and trait preferences and 3) to assess the prevalence and farmers’ management of bacterial wilt. The survey was carried out between November 2011 and March 2012. During the survey, a semi-structured questionnaire was administered to 253 individual farmers. The results show that the average household farm sizes are less than 2.4 hectares in all the districts. Majority of farmers allocate more than 25% of their farms to potatoes. Potato is produced both for food and cash by 90% of respondents in all districts. In Bomet district the red-skinned Dutch Robyjn is widely grown. In Molo district, the white- skinned Cangi is prominent while in Meru Central, the red-skinned Asante is predominantly grown by farmers. Cultivar preferences are mostly dictated by availability of markets, yield potential and taste. The major potato production constraints are diseases with bacterial wilt being the most prominent.

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