The potato is increasingly becoming one of East Africa’s food security crop — with Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia producing about five million tonnes between themselves.
With more attention being given to potato farming a new book was released in Nairobi on the best way to grow the crop. The book is a collaboration between the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Deputy Head of mission-Head of Trade and development, Joris van Bommel and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture PS Hamadi Iddi Boga.
The 112-page book titled, Potato Signals -African edition, is designed to benefit the potato farmer in Africa and is a small handy encyclopedia on potatoes particularly in East Africa.
Research that preceded the book found that most farmers in the region plant potatoes by use of “farm saved seed tubers” from a previous season as propagation material for the next crop, limiting production prospects.
“The potato value chain in East Africa is not well-developed. Availability of good quality seed in the region is very limited. Farmers usually use seed tubers, either from their previous harvests or purchase seed with unknown source from local markets,” said the book.
“Often, they use the best tubers for the local market, while the low-quality tubers are maintained as starting materials for the next crop. This is a very important yield limiting factor,” added the book.