Sweet Potato Farming in Kenya: How to Increase Your Yield Per Acre

Sweet Potato Yield in Kenya
Sweet Potato Yield in Kenya

One of the advantages of sweet potato farming in Kenya is there is very little input required on your side and you are always guaranteed a harvest as long as the conditions are right. You don’t have to worry about spending heavily on buying fertilisers or pesticides.

However, not all farmers hit the potential. Remember that when you hit your potential when it comes to sweet potato production, the payout can be HUGE.  The spoiler for most Kenyan farmers is venturing out into sweet potato production without sufficient information or experience in growing sweet potatoes. Small mistakes can be incredibly costly for you and you will see yourself losing a lot of money in the process.

When you deploy the best techniques and advice when it comes to sweet potato farming, your sweet potato yield per plant and per acre will increase considerably. Here are some good ways in which you can boost your sweet potato yield per acre in Kenya and plant your way to profitability:-

  • Planting sweet potatoes on land where no sweet potatoes or root tubers have not been planted before or in a very long time: Multiple successive cycles of sweet potato crops are going to deplete the fertility of the soil and this will affect the yield of your sweet potato crop severely. You can plant sweet potatoes once per year and then rotate it with other crops such as maize, groundnuts etc.
  • Do the land preparation during the dry seasons and let it settle: This will give time for most of the weeds to dry up and form organic matter on the land before the onset of the rains.
  • Prepare the ridges or mounds for planting sweet potatoes just a few days before you begin your planting. When you prepare the mounds much earlier, the soil hardens and it is difficult for planters to penetrate deep into the soil and plant the vine or sweet potato stems. When the mounds are inserted deep into the soil, the sweet potato tubers will be formed deep in the soil without exposure to the sunlight, passing thieves, domestic animals or rodents. Long exposure of sweet potato tubers to sunlight will damage the crop and often leads to rot.
  • Buy good quality vines: It is often advisable to secure the best quality sweet potato vines for planting from a reliable sweet potato supplier. The best sweet potato vines are those stems that are still young and vigorous. These are generally the vines that have been picked two to three months after planting.
  • Ensure the sweet potato vines for replanting are free of pests and diseases: Good quality suppliers like us can assure you of clean and fresh vines for replanting that are free of diseases and pests due to our quality multiplication process.
  • Planting the sweet potato vines just at the onset of rains: The advantage with this is that it allows for a very vigorous growth of the sweet potato vines and the formation lush foliage and tendrils. This will not only lead to a massive sweet potato yield plant but also larger sized sweet potatoes that increase your yield per acre.
  • Weed your sweet potato plants after two months: Sweet potato plants are most vulnerable to the effect of weeds in the first two to two and a half months. After that, the massive foliage and tendrils will largely inhibit the weed growth. So it is advisable to carry out prompt and comprehensive weeding after 6 to 8 weeks. However, if there is still vigorous weed growth after the two month period, make sure that you get rid of them.
  • Replant stunted or dried out vines: About two weeks or a month after planting, inspect your mounds or ridges for any signs of stunted or dried out vines and replant them with fresh and healthy vines.

 

 

Supplying Sweet Potatoes and Sweet Potato Vines in Kenya

Sweet Potato Farming in Kenya
Sweet Potato Farming in Kenya

Sweet potatoes are snacks in hotels across Kenya as an accompaniment for tea breaks and breakfast. It is also a main meal in thousands of households. Consumers have also made considerable progress in moving to the consumption of high nutrient content and beneficial foods hitherto ignored like the sweet potatoes. It has also become as source food in food insecure areas where maize supplies are insufficient throughout the year. Among the many benefits of the sweet potato are:

  • It is a rich source of Vitamin A, an active immune system enhancer, ideal for proper eye and skin development, cell growth among a host of other benefits.
  • It is very ideal diabetics who use it as an alternative food to bread or cane sugar.
  • When added value, it used in the making of jams,chapattis, mandazis and commercial soaps.
  • It can be blended with spices and herbs and some added flavoring to be able to produce a variety of dishes that enhance our nutritional needs.
  • Research has shown that sweet potatoes has the nutritional content to boost the immune system and may be very ideal for immune-compromised individuals like AIDS patients, it strengthens bones, has been proved to help in the healing of heart disease and aid in the prevention of cancer and posses desirable antioxidant qualities.
  • Compared to most vegetables it has good fibre content, some complex carbohydrates, potassium, iron and Vitamin A and C.
  • It is a staple food that can effectively be used to fight hunger and malnutrition in settings of poverty and as an additional meal on the tables of several households.

This is the dream we supply to households, hotels and restaurants, children homes and homes for the aged, food manufacturers like bakeries and confectioneries, hospitals and areas where the supply of other staple food is in short supply across the year.

We supply Farm Fresh Orange fleshed and yellow fleshed sweet potatoes for direct consumption and for Value Addition across Kenya. We also sell potato vines to farmers who have the desire to venture into potato farming.

Finally we offer technical support in the sweet potato value chain particularly to farmers venturing to farming for the very first time and the necessary linkages.

We produce, sort and transport your sweet potato orders to agreed destinations across Kenya. This is packaged in 110kg sacks. For your sweet potato orders you can reach us on the number below:

Jael  0726689806

Commercial Sweet Potato Farming in Kenya

Commercial Sweet Potato Farming in Kenya
Commercial Sweet Potato Farming in Kenya

Can you grow sweet potatoes commercially in Kenya? The answer is yes and we have done it for decades. Sweet potato consumption has increased considerably in the country in the past decades with the main sweet potato market in Nairobi absorbing close to 90% of the sweet potato grown commercially in the country. Other major, albeit much smaller, markets for sweet potato are Kisii, Nyamira, Kericho and Nakuru. There is also a growing uptake of sweet potatoes in Mombasa although for many farmers upcountry, especially from Western Kenya, the transportation costs can be prohibitive.

The size of the market alone makes sweet potato farming in Kenya a commercially viable venture. To grow it on a commercial scale, you will have to put more acreage under farming and plant at the right time. You have to weed and harvest at the right time so as to make the most of your venture. A 10 acre land should yield over 200 bags of sweet potatoes and at market prices ranging from Ksh.5000 to Ksh.7500, that easily adds up to Ksh.1 million to Ksh.1.5 million minimum revenues within a period of only 5 months.

There are certain things to keep in mind when planning to grow your sweet potato commercially. These include the following:-

  • Put more acreage under cultivation
  • Prepare land early just before the onset of the rains
  • Ensure you have prepared the sweet potato mounds correctly and that they are deep enough so as to allow for full development of the root tubers.
  • Plant in time just at the onset of rains
  • Secure the best quality and disease free sweet potato vines
  • Weed your sweet potatoes in time
  • Harvest in time
  • Prepare prompt transportation from your farm to the market in Nairobi

If you are planning to put more land under cultivation, we advise that you prepare yourself financially as there are various costs involved before your crop will be ready for harvesting and marketing.

Regions Where You Can Grow Sweet Potatoes in Kenya

Sweet Potato Growing Areas in Kenya
Sweet Potato Growing Areas in Kenya: There are various counties in Kenya where sweet potato growing is a viable business

Thanks to its high level of adaptability in a variety of growing conditions and the fact that it can perform well in a variety of climatic and agricultural conditions, sweet potatoes can be grown in most of the agriculturally productive regions of the country.

In terms of altitude, sweet potatoes will do well in areas with altitudes ranging from 0 to 2100 metres above the sea level. The temperatures should be at least 24 degrees Celcius for the best performance. Sweet potatoes will do well in areas that have abundant sunshine. Annual rainfall should vary anywhere from 750mm to 1000mm and the soil PH should be about 6.0.

The soils where you grow your sweet potatoes should be moist and well drained. In dry soils, the sweet potato vines or planting materials will simply wither away and in water clogged soils, there is going to be problem with the root tuber development. Based on the variety that you choose, your sweet potato crop will take anywhere from 3 to 6 months to mature. The yellow fleshed variety typically takes about 5 months so as to mature and ready for harvesting.

If you are planting in areas with shorter rains, it is advisable to choose the sweet potato varieties that mature within a shorter time frame. In Kenya, sweet potatoes can grow and do well in various parts. Here are some counties in Kenya that are ideal for sweet potato production:-

  • Homa Bay
  • Migori
  • Parts of Siaya County
  • Large Parts of Kisumu County especially those far from the lake
  • Kakamega County
  • Vihiga County
  • Busia County
  • Bungoma County
  • Trans Nzoia County
  • Bomet County
  • Kericho County
  • Kisii County
  • Nyamira County
  • Uasin Gishu County
  • Nakuru County
  • Kiambu County
  • Nyeri County
  • Nyandarua County
  • Maragua County
  • Kirinyaga County
  • Taita Taveta County
  • Kilifi County
  • Kwale County

Sweet Potato Yield Per Acre in Kenya

One of the common questions that we get from potential sweet potato farmers in Kenya is the potential yield that they could get per acre. Here, we do a rough estimate of the potential yield per acre of sweet potatoes if you do everything right. This estimate has been based on average yield on produce in Homa Bay Kenya, where our farms are based but it could basically be applied everywhere.

Land Preparation

Cost of Tilling an Acre of Land: Ksh.3000

Retilling Cost: Ksh.2500

Cost of Preparing Mounds/Ridges for Planting Sweet Potatoes: Ksh.2500

Cost of Vines

To plant an acre of sweet potatoes you need anywhere from 15 to 20 bags of vines

Cost of a bag of vines: Ksh.1500

Cost of vines for an acre: Ksh.22,500 to Ksh.30,000

Cost of Planting

Cost of planting a line with sweet potato vines: Ksh.50

An acre will have anywhere from 80 to 110 lines depending on your spacing

Cost of planting an acre at Ksh.50 per line is Ksh.4000 to Ksh.5500

Cost of Weeding an Acre

A line costs Ksh.50

Cost of weeding an acre costs Ksh.4000 to Ksh.5500

Cost of Harvesting Sweet Potatoes

An acre of sweet potatoes should yield 10 90Kg bags of medium to large sized sweet potatoes on the lower side and 20 to 25 bags on the higher side. Additionally, you should be able to get at least 10 bags of small sized sweet potatoes which are still marketable.

The cost of removing the sweet potato tendrils just before harvesting is generally Ksh.1500 to Ksh.2000 per acre.

The cost of digging up sweet potatoes is Ksh.2500 to Ksh.3000n per acre

Cost of picking and bagging sweet potatoes is generally Ksh.100 to Ksh.200 per person. You will need 5 to 10 people for quick labour to pick and bag the sweet potatoes.

Cost of bags for bagging the sweet potatoes in the farm. You need about 50 bags. Each bag goes for Ksh.40. So total is Ksh.2000.

Cost of transporting from the farm to the roadside or the places where the sweet potatoes are to be washed before rebagged for the markets is roughly Ksh.1000 to Ksh.2000 depending on the means of transport.

Cost of washing your sweet potatoes is Ksh.50 per bag. For an acre, you will spend anywhere around Ksh.1000 to wash all the bags.

Cost of bagging the sweet potatoes is Ksh.50 per bag so you are going to spend about Ksh.1000 to Ksh.1500 to bag all your sweet potatoes.

Cost of loading sweet potatoes to canters is generally Ksh.50 per bag so you will spend roughly Ksh.1000 or slightly more to load all bags into canter.

Cost of transporting from Nyanza to Nairobi is Ksh.600 per bag. Cost of transporting 20 bags of sweet potatoes is Ksh.12,000. If you live close to Nairobi, the cost is reduced considerably.

Cost of unloading in Nairobi is Ksh.100 per bag so to unload 20 bags will cost you roughly Ksh.2000 or more.

Rates charged by Nairobi City Council is Ksh.200 per bag so you will spend roughly Ksh.4000 as rates for your sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Marketing

Market price for the medium to large sized sweet potatoes ranges anywhere from Ksh.6000 to Ksh.7500 for the 90kg bag depending on the season. So per acre cost revenues would be Ksh.120,000 to Ksh.150,000 for the large to medium sized sweet potatoes.

Market price for small sized sweet potatoes is Ksh.600 to Ksh.1000 per acre so revenues for 20 bags would be Ksh.12,000 to Ksh.20,000.

Total Revenues

Total revenues would be roughly Ksh.132,000 to Ksh.170,000

Total expenses would be roughly Ksh.70,000 to Ksh.78,000 from planting to harvest.

Profits per acre: Rough Ks.62,000 to Ksh.92,000

Depending on the season of harvest, the yield per acre and how you manage your costs, your profits per acre would be anywhere from Ksh.62,000 to Ksh.92,000.

Keep in mind that you could reduce your profit margins when you harvest your sweet potatoes at the “wrong” time when the market prices are low. During “wrong” times, the market prices can go as low as Ksh.4000. Before harvesting sweet potatoes, keep an eye on the market price. Sweet potatoes can remain fresh in the soils for an extended period of time so you can leave them there for a while if the market conditions are still not favourable.

How to Maximize Profits Per Acre When Planting Sweet Potatoes

There are plenty of ways to maximize profits from your sweet potato farm right from the onset of your planting. You could do that in the following ways:-

  • Prepare land early and plant at the onset of rains so that you can harvest when prices are at their peak.
  • Secure good sweet potato vines from a reliable supply that will supply you with healthy stems.
  • Negotiate good rates for sweet potato vines. Currently, we sell our sweet potato vines for Ksh.1500 per bag but for bulk orders, we can offer farmers some discount.
  • Weed your sweet potatoes in time after two and a half months.
  • Negotiate cost of labour at various stages so as to cut down on costs
  • Secure cheap transportation to the markets especially from canters that are returning empty to Nairobi.
  • Pout more acreage of land under sweet potatoes if you can afford it. If you can make Ksh.92,000 per acre within five and a half to six months, you can make as much as Ksh.500,000 within the same period if you put 5 acres under cultivation or Ksh.1,000,000 if put 10 acres of sweet potatoes under cultivation.

Need assistance with your planting, give us a call today.

Facts About Kenya Sweet Potato Vines in Kenya

Planning to order your sweet potato vines from us? Here are some useful facts about our vines:

  • WE are currently the LARGEST sweet potato vines suppliers in Kenya. Our customers include individual farmers, institutions, international NGOs operating in Kenya and businesses.
  • We supply both yellow fleshed and orange fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) in Kenya.
  • None of our sweet potato vines are genetically modified or are GMOs. We sell 100% organic and natural sweet potatoes. We generally grow our sweet potatoes under 100% organic conditions without fertilizers or chemicals. The sweet potato produce from our vines are generally large to medium sized with an elliptical shape that can be easily packed in bags for sale or transportation.
  • One of the most important aspects of our varieties is that you can plant them easily without the need for fertilizers or pesticides although we suggest a crop rotation after at least one to two planting seasons. We supply clean and healthy vines that do not contain any pests and diseases from both our sweet potato farms and sweet potato multiplication centres. They just need good soils and rainfall and will do well even without fertilizers.
  • After you place an order for sweet potatoes from our farms, we will deliver within three days. If you order less than 20 bags, we can deliver within 24 to 48 hours.
  • We supply the strongest and healthiest vine stems for replanting. You can keep them for several days or even weeks before planting them.
  • We sell both the orange fleshed and yellow fleshed sweet potato vines. While the orange fleshed is a new variety, the yellow fleshed variety has been around for decades and is currently the more commercially viable variety locally. For exports, the orange fleshed sweet potato should do well. Prices for the yellow fleshed sweet potatoes generally vary from Ksh.3500 to Ksh.7000 per 90Kg bag depending on the harvesting season.
  • One bag of sweet potato vines that we sell typically contains anywhere from 1200 to 1500 vines and is sufficient to plant several lines in your farm based on the width of your farm.
  • Currently, the yellow fleshed sweet potato vines goes for Ksh.1500 per bag.
  • Want to make orders for sweet potato vines in Kenya? Call 0725772524 or 0726689806.