Potato Production in the Hot Tropical Areas of Africa: Progress Made in Breeding for Heat Tolerance

  •  Jane Muthoni    
  •  J. N. Kabira    


Potato is a cool season crop and grows best between 15 and 18 oC and soil pH of 5.5 to 6.0. Temperatures above 21 oC have adverse effects on growth. In tropical Africa, potato is grown in the highlands at altitudes between 1500 and 3500 meters above sea level. These areas are characterized by cool temperatures with high rainfall of at least 1000 mm per annum. With climate change, these highlands are rapidly warming up. In addition, the rapidly increasing population and consequent diminishing land sizes in these highlands have forced farmers to migrate to the lower, warmer and drier areas, where the migrants have moved with their cropping systems including the potato. Most of the tropical African countries are poor with an exploding population; there is need to come up with strategies to feed this population. Although a short duration crop such as potato can go a long way in solving the food crisis, most of the locally available potato varieties do not do well under high temperatures. Measures such as planting of heat-tolerant varieties and/or late maturing varieties as well as cultural practices such as mulching and changing the planting date may contribute to alleviating the situation. This review paper looks at breeding heat-tolerant potato varieties as a means for profitable production of potatoes in the hot tropical African region.

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