Sweet potatoes are fairly easy to grow but very few Kenyan farmers realize the full potential of their sweet potato crop. This usually happens when the sweet potatoes are smaller in size and hence fetch a lower price in the market. Larger and bigger sweet potatoes always mean more money in your pockets. Here are some tips on how to make sure that your sweet potatoes are bigger:-
There is a reason why we emphasized land preparation and mound preparation as some of the most important steps when it comes to sweet potato farming in Kenya. And when it comes to land preparation, it is always advisable to dig deeper into the soil so as to promote the growth of larger-sized sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes love loose and un-compacted soil where they can grow to very good sizes. It is also easier to harvest your sweet potatoes from a loose and un-compacted soils than from hardened soils. Deep, loose and un-compacted soils will add extra spaces in the soil for the sweet potato root tuber development. When prepping land, bury the organic matter into the soils so as to loosen up the soil. However, weeds are not supposed to be buried in the soil as they are likely to sprout when it begins to rain. Instead, collect the weeds and burn them up.
Plant at the right time
Sweet potatoes love mild rains and hotter temperatures so don’t be too eager to plant your sweet potatoes that you plant them even before the onset of rains or during very cold weather. In Kenya, the weather is mostly favourable throughout the year in the areas conducive for sweet potato growing.
Plant at the onset rains
If you plant your sweet potatoes during the dry seasons, they are either all going to wither off or if they survive, they will produce small sized and fewer sweet potatoes and you will have wasted a season. Sweet potatoes require sunshine and moist soils so it is always advisable to plant at the onset of rains.
The most important period in the life of sweet potatoes is the first two weeks. This is the period when they need to be well watered in order to sprout well.
Keeping your sweet potato vines in check
The sweet potato varieties grown in Kenya including the yellow fleshed sweet potatoes, the orange fleshed sweet potatoes and even the white skinned-white fleshed sweet potato varieties are vining types. They spread their vines around laterally. If the conditions are right such as fertile soils and plenty of rainfall, the tendril growth can be quite vigorous. While this can be a good thing initially, excessive vining will actually impede your yield. The excess stems and leaves can actually be a burden; eating too much space, impeding sunshine for other sweet potato plants and depleting the minerals in the soil. At some point, it is advisable to prune off some of the excess vining. These can be used as compost or replanted elsewhere. Ideally, allow for tendril growth for up to three feet within the mother sweet potato plant to prevent excessive vining from preventing the formation of large sweet potatoes. Keeping the vines well pruned will also make harvesting your sweet potato crop in Kenya a lot easier.
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.
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.
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.