Yellow-fleshed sweet potato variety offers better option for a Migori farmer

Yellow-fleshed sweet potato variety offers better option for a Migori farmer


Sweet potatoes are grown and consumed worldwide with the share of the production that is traded in the world markets being relatively small. In Africa, it is among staple food. In Kenya, it is a darling crop to many small holder farmers –thanks to its many varieties that survive in multiple weather conditions. Marcel Odera, a career farmer provides a case study.
Marcel hails from Migori, a County in South Nyanza region widely known for small scale gold mining activities. He has been making different farming ventures for over three decades only to find fortune in sweet potatoes which he has now grown for the last seven years.

”I was doing all kinds or types of farming activities. I started with growing trees, went to crop farming and later went to livestock till 2013 when I began to specialize in Yellow fleshed sweet potato variety which is earning me great fortune today,” he begins his story.

According to Odera, yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes are still the most numerous in Kenya and at the moment, the most commercially viable due to consumer preferences. There are different varieties of yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes grown in Kenya.

“Some of the yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes have the deep purple red skins while others have skins that appear more orangish. Some have sins that look like those of the orange fleshed sweet potato varieties. The yellowness of the yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes also varies. Some have a deeper yellow color while others have a lighter yellow color. In the images below, we show you one variety of the yellow-fleshed sweet potato that is commonly grown in Kenya,” he explains.

With initial capital of Ksh 10, 000, Mr. Odera began to cultivate sweet potatoes on just half an acre piece of land. “Kuanzisha, nilikuwa na shilingi elfu kumi, ambazo nilutumia ‘kumanage’ shamba na kununua mbegu kwa shirika la utafiti wa kilimo na mifugo nchini maruufu kama KALRO. (To start it all, I had ten thousand shillings which I used to manage the farm and also buy seeds from Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization -KALRO),” he says.

Since then, he has expanded the potato farm, specializing in growing the yellow fleshed sweet potato, the most common variety in Kenya grown, forming over 90 percent of sweet potato production in the country.

Like any other sweet potato, the variety thrives in a well-drained soils under plenty of sunshine, it takes about three to six months to mature. It requires very little or no fertilizers when growing. “I used a lot of fertilizers on the crops which I grew previously before they become ready for harvesting. However with this Yellow fresh sweet potato variety, I use very little if not at all, Odera says.

Nutritionist counts several health benefits from the variety which include high beta carootene, a form of vitamin A whose deficiency is the most critical form of undernourishment commonly refered to as hidden hunger, has calcium and phosphorous which are good for bone health and fiber that promotes weight loss
Mr. Odera adds that the variety is a pro-poor food security crop since it has low input requirements. It does not need a lot of labour or fertiliser during production. The crop is versatile and can be eaten in different forms either boiled, baked, steamed, or fried, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert or even as in between meals as snacks.
In terms of performance at the market according to Mr. Odera, Yellow freshed sweet potato variety performs well both locally and abroad due to its sweetness and the medicinal value. “Majority like it because it is sweet people in the hotel industry are major clients. It is medicinal because some of the people who buy it from us have say it was recommended to them by a doctor when they suffered diseases like diabetes,” he explains.

He sells his produce in markets in Migori, Kisumu Nakuru, and even Nairobi. His farm gate price is currently Ksh. 1800. One acre farm, produces between 18 to 20 bags. At the market, we sell ten potato balls for Ksh 50 while when the demand goes high, we sell only five balls at Ksh. 50
In Nairobi, a 98 kilogram bag of sweet potatoes currently goes for up to 3200 with its list market price being in Kissi and Eldoret, where it retails for Ksh 2000 per bag. But despite the sweet income he gets from growing the sweet potatoes, Odera has had to contend with one unique pests-Molds
Sweet potato production in Kenya is dominated by small scale farmers, such as Odera who account for about 80 per cent of the production. However, according to the farmers’ national information service, the space is still wide open for farmers who would like to produce sweet potato cuttings, for distribution to farmers. Sweet potatoes can also provide starch for use for use by garment makes and flour millers.

Share This


Wordpress (0)
Disqus ( )
× Whatsapp us