Trends and opportunities in the production, processing and consumption of staple food crops in Kenya
Conference Dates: 
Thu, 2013-04-25 - Fri, 2013-04-26

The current status of potato value chain in Kenya

Authors: Abong’, G.O. and Kabira, J.N.

Abstract

Potato plays a major economic role in the world and has been considered a major staple in developing countries such as Kenya where it ranks second to maize in terms of utilization. The importance of potato in Kenya is anchored on its role in alleviating poverty and fighting hunger as well as income generation thereby playing a dual role as food and cash crop. The crop is traded both in fresh and processed forms and the value chain is a source of sustainable livelihoods. Potatoes are grown by over 800,000 farmers on 160,000 ha and are valued at KE 46 billion per annum at the consumer level. Most of the varieties grown are locally adapted and are used for domestic consumption and processing.

The Kenyan potato value chain indirectly employs 2.5 million people including researchers, extension agents, seed inspectors, transporters, market agents, processors among others. They are, however faced with a number of challenges. Although the legal limit for ware potato bags is 110 kg, middle men use extended bags often over 150 kg to fleece the farmers. Due to lack of storage facilities, farmers often sell at low prices at harvest while consumers pay high prices 2-3 months later due to low supply of potatoes before the next harvest. Potato is now being considered by the Ministry of Agriculture as a possible alternative crop to maize which is having problems with incurable diseases from unknown sources.  Many farmers in maize growing areas are now adopting potatoes for food and income security reasons. Majority of the households in potato growing zones and a number of urban dwellers use the tubers as important accompaniment to diverse dishes. On the other hand, potato crisps and French fries (chips) are important processed products that form greater parts of menus in restaurants and hotels in major urban centers with crisps assuming large share in the supermarkets, kiosks and roadside shops. There exist a great potential in the potato value chain as much as there are challenges and opportunities. This paper is a step-by-step diagnosis of the potato value chain in Kenya, from production, post-harvest handling, processing and marketing including challenges and opportunities.

 

Key words: Staple food, dual crop, value chain, value addition