You are currently viewing Potatoes Farming in Kenya | 2023

Potatoes Farming in Kenya | 2023

An image of ready to cook potatoes grown from best fertilizer for potatoes in Kenya

Potatoes farming in Kenya is of the most lucrative farming businesses in the country. Potatoes farming is primarily done in the Highland areas of Kiambu, Nakuru, and Uasin Gishu. It is also done in Nyandarua, Nyeri, Westpokot, and Keiyo Marakwet. Potatoes are the second most important food crop after maize.

Potato Uses in Kenya

The demand for potato farmers will continue to increase due to urbanization. Potatoes are preferred because they are easy to cook and affordable. This is especially so in fast food establishments, where the middle class can afford a potato meal for Shs 80 {USD 0.80}.

Apart from cooking chips {French fries}, potatoes are also used in the culinary of alcoholic beverages and as food for domestic animals. Potatoes are also used in the industrial world to manufacture food-thickening ingredients and sauce adhesives.

Potatoes are also used in the textile industry; they are used to manufacture boards and papers. Lastly, potato stems and peelings are used by animal feed manufacturers to create a nutritious blend of affordable Animal Feeds. Potato farmers should not throw away waste. Instead, use should decompose the waste to produce biogas. 

How to set up a potato farm

Before setting up a potato farm, you need to identify high-yielding varieties. For example, the Sherekea variety produces 160 bags of potatoes per acre. Farmers can also use Kenya Mpya, which produces 140 bags per acre. The seed variety you choose should be high-yielding, fast-maturing, and disease-resistant. 

Potato farmers should also adopt good agricultural practices to reduce pests and diseases. Also, good farming practices ensure that a farmer gives maximum care and attention to their farm, increasing yields.

Farmers should know about land preparation and tuber spacing. Farrowing, integrated pest management practices, weeding, and entrepreneurship skills. Entrepreneurship skills are vital because they enable the farmer to know when to sell potatoes to the market, the price, and marketing. 

Timing the market is also crucial because you reduce the risk of selling your products at a loss. During the low season, a bag of potatoes can sell for as low as $5 {Ksh 500}. Similarly, the same bag of potatoes can sell for as high as $30 {Kshs 3,000} during the off-season.

Potato farmers should also be aware of diseases affecting the crop, such as bacterial wilt, powdery mildew, and black leg disease. It is also essential to know about potato storage.

Potatoes storage

Proper storage helps reduce post-harvest losses. You can either decide to use local storage or cheap indigenous storage techniques. Farmers who use sophisticated cold storage rooms can keep their potato tubers fresh for more than one year. A suitable storage room should be dark and have temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius.

Land and site preparation

Potatoes should be grown in climatic conditions with an annual rainfall of 850 – 1200mm. They also thrive better in regions with an altitude of between 1400 -3000m. 

Avoid planting potatoes on the same piece of land in two consecutive seasons.

This is important to reduce the possibility of diseases attacking the farm. In addition, farmers should avoid growing potatoes on land that has been previously planted tomatoes. Before planting tubers, you need to have a soil test done by a reputable testing facility.

A soil test is essential because you will know the chemical composition of the soil. For example, if the pH level is too high, it will destroy the tubers. Also, you get an opportunity to understand the type of nutrients present or lacking on your farm. If you have an abundance of nitrogen, you will save money because you will not buy nitrogen fertilizer.

Similarly, a soil test can determine if there are pathogens or pests in your soil.

How to prepare land for potato farming

The soil needs to be well cultivated, with a raised seedbed to ensure uniform and large potato tubers. Also, organic matter in the ground that does not decompose quickly must be removed. This is because they may attract pests. You should ensure that the land is plowed at least 20 cm deep and that there are no soil clods.  

You can buy certified seed varieties from certified producers around the country. You can find the contact information of certified potato seed producers on the National Potato Council of Kenya website. This produces produce certified varieties such as

  • Shangi
  • Sherekea
  • Wanjiku
  • Mavuno
  • Arka
  • Tigoni
  • Nica
  • Dutch Robin
  • Chulu
  • Sagitta

Good quality seeds are essential because they minimize diseases and guarantee higher yields. The seed variety you use should depend on the market needs and location.

Potato planting

It would be best if you planted the seeds at the onset of the rains. When planting, plant in farroows. The plant should also be grown 30 cm from each other, with the sprouts facing up.

The furrow depth should be between 8 -12 cm, allowing a tuber population of 18,000 per acre. The spacing makes it easy for you to scout for pests and diseases, harvest, and spray the farm. It is also important to note that you should plant them in ridges with a height of 25 cm, making them easy to harvest. Also, the tubers have room for expansion. 

Potato fertilizer application

The best fertilizer for potatoes is that which meets their individual needs, as recommended by an agronomist, as a result of a soil test. In general, potatoes require different types of nutrients to thrive. For example, potatoes need nitrogen to boost growth and potassium to protect the tubers from disease attacks.

Potatoes will also require calcium and sulfur. Calcium strengthens the cell walls, making the plant less susceptible to diseases. Sulfur is essential because it produces amino acids and methionine, which increases yields. 

You can apply Sarfi Sarvi fertilizer, Safi foliar, or safi Biochar when using organic fertiliser. Safi biochar helps the soil hold nutrients and prevent erosion. If you have a water problem, use Safi biochar because it traps moisture, preventing water from evaporating. 

Inorganic fertilizers

If you are using inorganic fertilizer, your best option will be to use diammonium phosphate and calcium ammonium nitrate. Diammonium phosphate should be applied at the rate of 500 kg per hectare. The recommended ratio for these fertilizers is 18:46:20.

Calcium ammonium nitrate should be used as a top dresser and applied at 300 kg per hectare. If your farm is acidic, apply lime to remove the acidity. Triple superphosphate should also be used at 500 kilograms per hectare. Farmers should use this if the farm is phosphate deficient.

If the form is potassium deficient, then the Muriate of Potash should be applied at 50 kg per hectare. Potato farmers should ensure that the fertilizer is balanced throughout the farm. If one fertilizer is more than the other, it will reduce yield. For example, heavy fertilization of nitrogen fertilizer will encourage the growth of excess foliage, which will delay tuber growth.

Managing potatoes while on the farm

One way to manage potatoes while on the farm is to start weeding at least 2 weeks after planting. Failure to weed may result in poor yield Because the weeds will compete for nutrients and moisture with potato tubers. Weeding can either be done manually or by the use of a herbicide.

Farmers should test the type of herbicide they use on a small portion before applying it to the whole farm. An agricultural expert should advise on the best application procedure.

Water management and potato ridging

To have a good harvest, ensure that the potatoes have good soil moisture levels throughout the growing season. The required amount of water is around 400mm – 800mm. One way to conserve water is to mulch around the plants. The farmer should be careful to avoid under or over-irrigation, as this can cause the tubers to have cracks and abnormal growth.

Potatoes should have enough water during the flowering stage to avoid having misshapen tubers. If you are irrigating the farm, do it early in the morning to prevent evaporation during the day. Farmers should avoid furrow irrigation because it can dampen the soil, attracting diseases. Instead, farmers should use drip or sprinklers.

Ridging is adding soil to a crop to raise the bed height. This is important because it reduces the greening of tubers and enhances soil aeration. Ridging should be done along the rows and during weeding. 

The ridge should be around 25 cm high, and the process should not be done when the soil is wet. This is because it can result in the spread of fungal diseases such as Late blight disease. 

Potato farming profit per acre

Potato profit per acre is between Kshs 90,000 – 200,000. It is impossible to estimate the actual profit per acre because there are alot of factors involved. One main factor that can determine the profit per acre is the variety. For example, if you plant the Arizona variety, you can expect an average yield of 16 tonnes per acre.

However, if you plant the Shangi potato variety, you can expect an average yield of 30 – 40 tons per acre. Another factor that will determine the potato profit per acre is the planting season. Farmers need to time the market to ensure that when they are harvesting, they will not be a surplus of potatoes in the market.

Lastly, the profit will depend on how well the farmer maintains their farm and manages post-harvest losses. There are several potato varieties in the market. However, we will only discuss the most popular. 

Potato varieties in Kenya

The type of potato varieties planted should be guided by their intended use. If you are planting potatoes for use as Crips, select a potato variety that has long tuber dormancy, shallow eyes, and no sprouts. Sherehekea, Royal, and the Dutch Robijin variety are potato varieties suitable for making crisps.

If the farmer wants to plant potatoes for making chips, then you should plant yellow-skinned potatoes. This is because they are rich in starch, giving them a dry and soft texture. Potato varieties that are suitable for making chips include Shangi, Laura, and Challenger. 

Similarly, potatoes suitable for smashing should have high starch content to produce a fluffy smooth texture when cooked. Examples of potato varieties ideal for smashing include the Chuluy, Annet, and Jelly varieties. 

Shangi potato farming in Kenya

Shangi potatoes are one of the most popular varieties in the country because of their marketability and high yields. Shangi potatoes have an estimated yield of 30 – 40 tonnes. If we assume that the farmer can handle post-harvest losses, and the timing is correct, the Shangi potato farming gross income will be 250,0000 – 300,0000 per acre.  

Shangi estimated potato farming costs are broken down as follows:

  • Production costs: 46.500
  • Land preparation: 11,500
  • Fertilizer: 25,000
  • Fungicides and insecticides: 27,000
  • Crop Management: 21,000

The estimated cost of production: 131,000

The cost can be higher or lower depending on several factors. For example, the prices Can Be Higher if you include insurance costs. The costs will also be higher if you lease land in urban areas. With the above costs, the estimated potato farming profit per acre should be around 130,000.

Potato diseases

It is impossible to discuss potato farming without looking at diseases that can attack potatoes and how to control them. Diseases account for more than 40% of potato losses while on the farm. In some cases, the losses can be as high as 100%.

To control diseases, farmers must regularly monitor their farms. An agronomist should also do a soil test before tubers are planted. When you spot a deceased plant, uproot and destroy it. Avoid feeding the infected plants to animals, as the infection may find its way back to the farm through manure. Below are some of the major potato diseases affecting farmers in Kenya.

Late blight disease

Late blight is a fast-spreading disease that can destroy crop yield if not controlled on time. It mainly affects potatoes during the long rainy season. Water-soaked lesions on the foliage are clear signs of late blight disease. 

These water-soaked lesions turn black when wet and brown when dry. At the same time, the underside of the leaves will have a white moldy growth. This will initially attack the leaves and enter the tuber if not controlled on time. 

Controlling late blight disease

The best way to control this disease is to use fungicides. Its application should be based on the advice of an agricultural officer. In addition, spraying should only be done when the plants are at least 10 cm tall. 

However, spraying should be done after symptoms are identified if the tuber variety is late blight disease resistant. When spraying a fungicide, ensure you spray on the underside part of the leaves

Early blight disease

Early blight disease mainly affects potatoes during the end of the growing season. It is characterized by dark brown spots on the leaves, which enlarge when the area is damp. Early blight diseases thrive best when there is frequent rainfall and heavy dew. The disease spreads by air or during irrigation. 

When the disease is not controlled on time, it will defoliate the foliage. During the dry season, only the lower part of the leaf will be affected because the disease will spread through irrigation.

Controlling early blight disease

Early blight disease can be controlled by prism crop rotation, using suitable seed varieties, rouging, and proper sanitation. In addition, farmers can also use systemic chemicals or contact fungicides to prevent the disease from spreading.

Bacterial Wilt

Bacterial wilt is a common plant disease that affects more than 30 plant species, such as bananas, eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes. The condition is mainly spread by planting infected Seed tubers, using contaminated water, or walking on the farm with infected shoes. Bacterial wilt will enter the tuber through openings made by tools or openings made by insects.

Bacterial wilt causes the leaves to wilt and die despite having sufficient moisture.

Controlling bacterial wilt

Though bacterial wilt has no known chemical control measure, farmers are encouraged to implement integrated disease management practices. These practices involve planting healthy seeds, using disease-resistant varieties, and practicing crop rotation. 

Black scurf

Black scarf disease primarily affects potatoes planted near uncomposted organic matter. The condition is characterized by stunted growth, a white mass of fungus at the base of the stalks, and deformed small tubers. Mature tubers are affected by sclerotia {black specks} which fall off the tuber’s skin when rubbed. 

Controlling the black scurf disease

One way to control the disease is to practice crop rotation, using non-host crops, Using certified seeds, treating certified seeds before sprouting, and not planting in waterlogged soil. Farmers should not deep sprouted tubers in chemicals, as these can cause damage.

Blackleg and soft rot

Black leg disease affects the potato plants, while soft rot disease infects the tubers. The condition is most prevalent when there is excess moisture. Affected leaflets are yellow and roll upwards before they wilt and die. The potato tubers can also rot, significantly affecting yields. 

Controlling blackleg and soft rot disease

The blackleg disease can be controlled using fungicides and by planting certified seed varieties. Farmers are also advised to be careful when weeding to avoid tuber injury. Potatoes should also be grown using the correct spacing, and furrow irrigation should be avoided.

Mosaic Virus

The Mosaic virus is transmitted by pests such as aphids. If not controlled on time, the virus can significantly affect yields. The Mosaic virus includes other viruses such as potato virus A and potato virus X. Potato virus is transmitted through infected tubers and causes the mosaic virus. Potato virus S causes mild symptoms and does not affect yield. 


The Mosaic virus causes the leaves to crinkle and shine. Affected plants may have stunted growth, which reduces productivity. 


Controlling mosaic virus

The best way to control the mosaic virus is to use good-quality seeds and rouging when there are symptoms. Also, potato farmers should remove and destroy affected plants.

Pests and Insects that affect potatoes

Pests and insects play a big role when it comes to post-harvest losses. These pests must be identified and destroyed before affecting your harvest. Dangerous potato pests include the potato tuber moth, the leaf-eating caterpillar, Beatles, aphids, and spider mites.

 The best way to control these pests is to use insecticides, systematic chemicals, or both. 


Aphids can travel long distances in search of food. They infect sprouting tubers, stems, and flowers. Apart from feeding on the plant, aphids can also spread viral diseases. These pests suck on the sap of potato crops weakening the crops and reducing yields. 


Aphids spread diseases such as the mosaic virus and potato virus, M, S, and Y. 

Controlling aphids on the farm

The best way to control aphids is to practice proper field sanitation, such as good waste management and rouging. Farmers are also advised to use pesticides while wearing protective clothing. They are also encouraged to practice pre-sprouting to accelerate the growth of tubers. 


Cutworms feed on the plant, as well as destroy the stems. Once they cause a wound, the plant becomes susceptible to other diseases, such as soft rot. When you look closer, you will realise that the injury happened just above or below the soil. Young caterpillars feed on the leaves before burrowing into the ground, where they become moths. 

Controlling cutworms

Cutworms can either be controlled by using systematic insecticides or contact insecticides. Spraying should be done after you notice beetles or cutworms consuming foliage. 

Another pest that you need to know about is the potato tuber moth. This pest attacks potatoes while they are in the field and storage. They create burrows through the stems exposing the plant to bacteria and viruses. 


Leave a Reply