This article focuses on Irish potato farming in Kenya. Irish potatoes are one of the staple foods in Kenya, just like maize and rice. They are consumed by a lot of Kenyans. They can be mashed, boiled or used to make French fries or chips.
Irish Potatoes Growing Areas in Kenya
Irish potatoes are grown in most parts of the country. Some of the major growing regions include;
- Nyandarua. Nyandarua county is the leading producer or Irish potatoes in Kenya.
- Elgeyo Marakwet
- Trans Nzoia
- Uasin Gishu
Nutritional Benefits of Irish Potatoes
- Rich in fiber which serves important functions in the body such as lowering cholesterol levels and aiding in digestion.
- Rich in Vitamins B6, C, carotenoids and flavonoids which have antioxidant components.
- Good source of folate which plays a role in the synthesis of DNA.
- Contains choline which aids in brain development and memory boost.
- Rich bone-building minerals such as iron, phosphorous, calcium and zinc.
Ecological Conditions for Growing Irish Potatoes
- Altitudes of between 1500 to 2800 m above sea level.
- Well distributed rainfall that ranges between 850-1400 mm per annum.
- Temperature range of 16-20°c for tuber development.
- Well-drained loamy and sandy soils with pH of 5-6.5. The soils should be rich in organic matter.
Varieties of Irish Potatoes in Kenya
The following seed varieties of Irish potatoes are available in Kenya.
- Purple gold
- Mayan gold
- Lady amarilla
Planting and Land Preparation
Irish potatoes are grown from seeds. It is important to choose the right variety that is disease tolerant and with a potential to yield maximum returns.
Planting process begins with making hilled rows and furrows, with a spacing of 75 cm between furrows and 30cm between seeds.
Proper weed control should be practised. Crop rotation is also highly encouraged for the purpose of managing pests, diseases and controlling weeds.
Application of Fertilisers
- 50 kg of DAP per acre should be applied at the time of planting.
- Top dressing with CAN (50kg per acre) should be done after about 3-4 weeks. Apart from CAN, top dressing can also be done using other fertilisers that are rich in Nitrogen. This includes NPK.
Harvesting of Irish Potatoes
Irish potatoes mature after about 4 months. However, it depends with the variety planted. Yellowing of leaves is a clear indication of maturity. An acre can yield approximately 30-100 bags of irish potatoes.
It is advisable to harvest irish potatoes during dry weather. This is for the purpose of quick drying of tubers.
Market for Irish Potatoes in Kenya
The demand for Irish potatoes is very high in the country. The potatoes can be sold locally or exported by top exporters such as Selina Wamucii.
The potatoes can be sold in the local markets or be supplied to institutions such as hotels, schools etc.
According to a report done by the National Potato Council of Kenya, the price per kg of irish potatoes varies from town to town. For example in Nairobi, one kg retails at Kshs 50.