Kenyan sweet potatoes have been enjoying an increase in popularity recently. With more demand and more buyers, the Kenyan community seems excited to start increasing the acreage and number of farmers committed to the sweet potato.
Kenya can expect a growing number of sweet potato farmers, as demand has gone up significantly over the past few weeks. So much so, that a meeting was held between shareholders of Barrinate Farms and governmental agencies to see what needs to be done to enforce growth of the industry.
“Lately we’ve seen an increase in demand and more buyers are interested in either buying our sweet potatoes or working with us in some way. This is happening to a degree that we feel we need to double our production as a cooperation,” said Dr. Barbara Magoha, Managing Director of Barrinate Farms.
“Since we know we want to increase our production and a lot of people in the region have shown interest to start growing the sweet potatoes, a meeting was held between buyers, shareholders, farmers, country officials, banks and other agencies involved in vine production to see how we can achieve this goal. The government has been producing more sweet potato vines, at the same time we don’t want to encourage replanting as this could result in more diseases and pests.”
To really move forward, the Kenyan sweet potato industry needs a financial injection, says Magoha. “During the meeting, it was said we are expecting more commitment from everyone involved. Mostly we need financial support for the farmers, and we’ve found some potential investors willing to support the industry where they can.”
When asked what has the biggest priority, Magoha feels a sorting machine would be required. “Currently we sort all of our harvested sweet potatoes manually. This takes a lot of time and if we want to increase production this part will only become more tedious. The better we can sort our sweet potatoes by quality, the amount of wasted produce will only be lowered. We feel this is an important goal, as we also plan to use any excess produce for flour production.”
According to Magoha, the increase in demand mostly comes from the European continent. “We’ve been receiving most calls from the United Kingdom and Italy. The Italians are actually coming over for a visit in January to see the project. However we’ve also received a call from one Israeli company that would love to partner with us.
All in all we’re experiencing very exciting times at the moment. Other markets that we see growth in are countries like Denmark, the Netherlands and we’ve even received enquiries from South Africa!”