Sweet potato farming in Western Kenya
Most farmers from Western Kenya have completely abandoned sugarcane for sweet potato production. Farmers claim that sugarcane has dwindling returns and therefore, it is an unattractive enterprise. This article highlights the reasons why sweet potato farming is common in Western Kenya.
Over the past few years, Western Kenya region was largely sugar cane producer until very recently when they shifted focus towards sweet potatoes. Farmers decided to try out sweet potatoes because payment for sugar cane production delayed.
Farmers in Western Kenya are completely abandoning sugar cane for sweet potatoes. Sugar cane production is now not considered a viable business by both large scale and small scale farmers.
Why sweet potato production is common in western region
Sweet potatoes have a ready market
Because sweet potatoes is a common food in Western Kenya, farmers find a ready market for the product. Farmers make large sales because people value nutrients within the product.
The sweet potato type grown in Western Kenya is rich in beta carotene and vitamin A. Because of this, it is highly recommended for growing children and expectant mothers.
The nutrients found in sweet potato provide an easy access to a ready market. Besides, many people love sweet potatoes in Western Kenya.
Furthermore, the demand for sweet potatoes is increasing country wide. This has given entrepreneurs an opportunity to venture in the business and they have never failed.
The consumption of sweet potato has become very common in other parts of Kenya. In fact it can be prepared in many ways. People have developed different recipes apart from just boiling the tubers. Sweet potatoes are relatively cheap and act as a good substitute for bread during breakfast.
It takes shorter time to mature
Unlike sugar cane, sweet potato tubers take shorter period to mature. This means that a farmer can have up to three seasons in a year. Sugar cane takes 24 months to mature. Because of the longer periods it takes on the farm, it’s cultivation is reducing in most parts of the Western region in Kenya.
Famers now prefer sweet potatoes because it takes shorter period to be ready for marketing and earn as many times. A farmer can earn up to 60 000 after every season from a 1 acre farm.
Most farmers from Western region admit that sweet potato production is a profitable venture. Sweet potato yield has a greater impact on profitability. Moreover, capital used in investing in production has the least impact on profitability. Increasing scale of production can promise much higher investment returns.
It is a low input crop
Sweet potato crops rarely require fertilizers and pesticides. This makes required input quite smaller as compared to other crops. The fact that sweet potato vines are easy to acquire makes it easier for small scale farmers to make a living out of it.
Sweet potato is a weather resilient crop
Sweet potato is rarely affected by climate change and change in rainfall patterns. Weather patterns do not affect sweet potato productivity. This is also the reason why Western people of Kenya prefer this crop.
Sweet potato is a source of income for many farmers
Sweet potato production gives farmers a chance to earn income from the sales of surplus. Most of the farmers who grow this crop depends on it for survival. Some people also grow it as a subsistence crop. It is a source of food for many people of the Western region.