(Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government is set to
review it Roots and Tuber policy as part of plans to
increase the country’s food security, a government
official said on Monday.
Principal Secretary Sicily Kariuki told journalists in
Naivasha, about 90 km northwest of Nairobi, that roots
and tuber crops such as potatoes and sweet potatoes
are now the second most important food crop in Kenya
revised policy will enhance the utilization of root
and tuber crops as raw materials in human food,
animal feeds as well as in the pharmaceutical
sector,” Kariuki said during the opening ceremony
of ninth Triennial African Potato Association (APA)
forum, which runs until July 4, brought over 280
delegates from 36 different countries comprising of
scientists and other stakeholders involved in the
potato and sweet potato value chains.
will also present it to parliament, so that it can
be enacted into law,” she said. Kariuki added that
the policy aims at giving a clear direction for
sustainable growth and development for the root and
tuber crops industry.
to the ministry of agriculture, Kenya’s total
production of potatoes in 2011 was 2.6 million tonnes
valued at 327 million U.S. dollars from 135,924
hectares of land.
in 2012 the area under cultivation was 143,325 ha
which resulted in a production of 2.9 million tonnes
valued at 582 million dollars,” she said.
noted that the production of sweet potatoes also
increased from an area of 61,902 ha with a production
of 759,471 tonnes valued at 242 million dollars in
2011 to an area of 66,971 ha with a production of
859,549 tonnes valued at 310 million dollars in 2012.
agricultural principal secretary said that in the last
three years, the government has also provided funding
for agricultural training centers to carry out seed
potato multiplication to the tune of 350,000 dollars.
will assist the country to promote use of certified
seed potatoes by farmers in order to achieve
increased potato yields,” she said.
government official noted that a draft Potato Strategy
and a legal notice is in place but they now require
more stringent enforcement by the county governments.
Agriculture Secretary Anne Onyango said that efforts
towards development of sweet potato have focused on
changing the eating habits through the creation of
awareness and development of high yielding varieties
that are tolerant to pests and diseases.
government in partnership with international donors
has also established a tissue culture laboratory, as
well as aeroponic facilities in order to increase
the availability of potato mini- tubers,” Onyango
President William Ruto said that sufficient and
healthy food is a prerequisite for sustainable
development in the 21st century.
crops sector also plays a central role in Kenya’s
food supply, which has generally lagged behind the
rate of population growth,” Ruto said.
noted that productivity has also remained low because
of underutilization of water resources coupled with
limited use of improved soil-fertility management
to Ruto, weak support services as well as recurrent
droughts and related increased risks have discouraged
investment which is indispensable for raising
Potato Association President Dr. Jan Low said that the
growth in production of potatoes and sweet potatoes in
Africa is projected to increase as economists project
an increase in demand in the region of between 3
percent and 10 percent annually.
said that both crops are major subsistence crops for
small scale farmers in Africa.
have also emerged as key cash crops as they are a
highly preferred food in urban areas where
consumption is increasing rapidly among the poor as
well as among higher-income urban dwellers,” she
said that while some African countries consider
potatoes as a poor man’s food, in Kenya it is
considered a high quality and prestigious food item.
apart from its contribution to rural food security,
the potato is a dynamic cash crop with a high market
potential,” the president said.