Which are the best potato varieties in Kenya?
Did you know that Kenya has 56 registered potato varieties by the KEPHIS? But which is the best variety for making crisps, chips, or mashing? More interestingly, which one would make you the highest profits given its high yields or fast maturity period? The chart below compares all the types of potatoes types available in the country.
How do you choose the best potato for your farm?
Not all potato seeds are suitable for your farm’s agroecological zone. To plant the best for the highest yields and income, consider the following factors.
- Intended usage whether for making crisps, chips or mashing
- Altitude range in meters above sea level
- Maturity period in number of days it takes to mature from planting
- Potential yield per acre
- Tuber skin and flesh color
- Tuber dormancy
- potato seed’s tolerance, susceptibility and resistance to diseases like late blight.
You can grow potato varieties that are either best for making crisps, chips, or mashing.
Best potatoes for crisps have low starch, have a fresh look, and are firm. Select ones with a longer tuber dormancy since the best crisps are made of potatoes with shallow eyes and no sprouts. Examples of the best potatoes for making crisps in Kenya are the Dutch Robijin, Royal, and the sherehekea among others.
Wondering which are the best potatoes for making chips? The yellow-skinned potatoes are the best. These have a rich content of starch making them soft with a dry texture. Agcenture recommends the Shangi, Challenger, and Laura among others in the table below.
The best potatoes for mashing or table have a high content of starch. This gives you a flourily or fluffy smooth mash when they are cooked. They include all the white-fleshed and yellow-fleshed varieties like the Annet, Chulu, or the Jelly. Besides, these have a naturally buttery flavor and creamy, dense consistency.
Best potato varieties in Kenya
The list below will list the key features of all the potato varieties giving you the best growing altitude in Metres above sea level, Their best use, and the yield per acre it can produce.
Tigoni potato variety can yield 14,000-18,000 kg per acre. It grows best at altitudes of 1800-2600 meters above sea level (ASL). It matures in 3-4 months from planting. Tigoni has a high dry content matter. It is the best variety to make chips, mashing, boiling, baking and roasting. KALRO (formerly KARI) released it in the market in 1998. Its tubers are long, oval with white-smooth skin. It has white flowers with tall upright stems.
Shangi potato variety can yield 30,000-40,000 kg per acre in Kenya. It matures in 3-4 months. It grows best in 1500-2800 meters ASL. Its stems can grow very tall to one meter. It has broad leaves that are light. The tubers are white flesh, oval with medium to deep eyes with pink pigments. Shangi potatoes are good for mashing, boiling, roasting and making chips. The variety is moderately susceptible to late blight.
The Asante potato variety yields 14,000-18,000 kg per acre. It matures in 3-4 months from planting. Its tubers are round with smooth pink skin. Its optimal growing region is areas between 1,800-2,600 meters ASL. The stems are medium, and its tubers have a high dry matter content. It is best for making chips, mashing, roasting and baking. This seed is tolerant of late blight disease.
Kenya mpya stems are tall, rising to about 1 meter. It has white flowers, and the tubers are cream whiter with shallow pink eyes. They are large and can be oval or round. The variety is fast growing maturing in 3-3.5 months. Under proper agronomic care, it can yield 14,000 to 18,000 kilograms of iris potato per acre. It has good storability value. Best used for boiling, roasting, mashing or making chips.
This variety was by KALRO in 2010. It does best in optimal production of 1,800-3,000 meters ASL. It is a medium-sized plant that matures in 3-4 months. The stems are medium with light purple flowers. Its tubers are oblong or round with red skin. It has the most tubers per plant and can yield 16,000-20,000 kg per acre. The sherekea potato variety is best for boiling, roasting, mashing or processing to make chips and crisps. This variety can withstand late blight and potato viral diseases.
The purple gold variety was by KALRO in 2010. It can yield 10,000-14,000 kg of potato per acre. Its tubers are round with dark purple skin with white flesh eyes. Purple gold has medium stems, and its flowers are purple. The seed is tolerant to greening and most soil-borne and late blight diseases. It is best for mashing, boiling, roasting and making chips.
Also known as the mew pink. It is an early maturing type, taking only 2-3 months to harvest. The variety can yield 10,000-12,000 kg per acre under proper care. The stems grow tall, and it has white flowers. Its tubers are oval with red skin. It is tolerant to dry weather.
Dutch robin variety can yield 14,000-16,000 kg of potatoes per acre. Its stems are medium with medium stems. Its flowers are white, and the tubers are well-rounded with red skin. The seed has a long dormancy, making it one of the best varieties to store for long periods.
New potato varieties In Kenya
Besides the varieties discussed above, there are more local and exotic potato varieties. They introduced most of the local ones back in 2002. The average yield is 14,000 to 18,000 kg per acre.
The exotic ones originate from other countries. We summarize these varieties in the table below.
Where to buy certified potato seeds in Kenya?
Planting clean and quality potato seeds is a must if you want higher farm profits and yields. Research and development is the mandate of the KARLO horticulture research institute at Tigoni. Breeding and distribution work is done by various public and private propagators like ADC. If you are looking to buy quality shangi, Dutch Robijn or other potato seeds (tubers with sprouts), or young seedlings ready for transplanting, look from the following firms: –
- Agriculture development corporation (ADC) farm in Molo
- Kisima potato farm in Timau Meru
- Agricultural training colleges (ATCs)
- Private potato seed propagators, e.g. Grace Rock.
- Agrico Potato Services Africa
potato farming challenges in in Kenya
Low yields While the potato yield per acre for most potato yields is 16-4o tons per acre, the national average of potato farming is 3.3 tons per acre. As a farmer observe good crop management, control pests, and diseases, and apply the right fertilizer amounts to double your yields to at least 8 tons per acre.
Post-harvest food waste: Most of the harvested potatoes goes to waste before consumption. It rots in the farms or sprouts before it can be sold. Though there are interventions to erect potato cold rooms in high potato-producing areas like Molo, Nyandarua, and Meru counties, as a farmer you can plant varieties with low sprouting, susceptible to fast rot, and use simple storage methods to increase its shelf life.