Thanks to the rising costs of bread and cake, most Kenyan families are now turning back to eating the traditional very healthy breakfast options. This includes sweet potatoes; it is one of the leading factors to the huge and still rising demand for sweet potatoes mostly in the urban areas.
Investing in sweet potatoes farming in Kenya can make you an overnight success story. All you need is a small piece of land with loose soil and some vines and you will be good to go.
With the recent developments in Kenya’s agriculture, sweet potato farming has seen an increased popularity being grown by farmers- mostly the small scale farmers. Sweet potato has been one of the traditional foods in the African dishes and it is very healthy. The crop is mostly being preferred by many farmers as it is environmental friendly. Sweet potato reduces soil erosion and has very minimal chemical use.
Much is being done by the agriculturalists and other field extension officers to teach as many farmers on proper ways on how to grow sweet potato and leap financial benefits from its sale.
The Kenya Agricultural Research Institute has introduced a sweet potato variety that takes a short period to grow. The introduction of these varieties has seen an increase in yields.
In Kenya, sweet potato farming is done at altitudes ranging from sea level to 2,500 meters. The skin color and flesh comes in a variety ranging from white, yellow, orange and deep purple.
Sweet potato has now become a cash crop in many parts of the country namely; Mathira and Karatina, Nyeri County, Suneka and Mosocho, Kisii County. Farmers are earning a sustainable income from this traditional crop. The farmers have undergone over several series of classes in various platforms to learn and be educated by specialists on how to grow sweet potatoes sustainably.
Even so with the increased popularity of sweet potatoes among Kenyans farmers, they still cannot meet the growing demand of the crop in the market. Sweet potato being a traditional food among others like arrow roots, cassava and yams is really on a high demand as people are now going back to foods which can be grown organically.
Sweet potatoes, especially the yellow fleshed variety are a good source of vitamins. They also have a higher yield compared to other varieties already cultivated.
Among all the other starch foods, including maize and Irish potatoes, the sweet potatoes are known to have more calories than the others. Also it has a higher protein content thus it is highly nutritious.
For a farmer who is willing to get into sweet potato farming, you need to understand some of the requirements on how to grow sweet potatoes. Sweet potato growing requires;
- Rainfall of 750- 1000mm per annum.
- Moderate soil pH of 6.0 to facilitate optimum foundation.
- Well drained soil to allow root development.
The crop has a growing period of three to six months depending in the sweet potato variety. It also does well in abundant sunshine and temperatures above 24°. Only a small portion of the sweet potatoes produces come from Central Kenya. Much of the sweet potato is being done in the Western Kenya where it is being cultivated in large scale.
With rising shift toward more traditional foods and as lifestyle changes there is an increased demand on healthier eating habits the so called “orphan crops”. Crops such as sweet potatoes, cassava, arrow roots and yams have become a favorite for many health conscious urban Kenyans eager reduce consumption of “junk food”. Sweet potatoes’ farming in Kenya has been embraced rather quickly and this huge potential needs to be tapped by educating the farmers on how to grow sweet potato and aid the government call towards a food secure nation.
Here is an interesting video about How to Plant Sweet Potatoes. Enjoy:
Here is another very interesting sweet potatoes farming video you might like:
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