Potatoes are an important subsistence cash crop in Kenya. Half of the potato crop is harvested in the first six months and the other half in the second six months. There has been a slight increase in potato production mainly due to the growth in population but also to a diversification of crops in growing areas with favourable climatic conditions where maize has been the main crop. Kenya is among the potato growing country with a high potential despite having challenges with some potato diseases.
The most favorable climatic conditions are found in areas with a yearly rainfall of between 850 mm and 1,200 mm at altitudes of between 1 500 m and 2 800 m above sea level. These areas are mainly in the Central, Rift Valley and Eastern provinces of Kenya.
Most of the potato crops grown on a subsistence basis and relatively small amounts are sold in the urban and village markets. The estimated Per capita consumption is between 10kg to 15kg compared to 100kg in Western Europe and 150kg to 200kg in Eastern Europe per annum (Robinson, 1970). The average yield achieved by the small-scale farmer is approximately 6 to 7 tons per hectare. Large-scale farmers generally achieve higher yields approximately 10 to 14 tons per hectare. Efficient husbandry and the use of improved planting material could increase average yields to 16–20 tons per hectare since yields of up to 40 tons per hectare have already been achieved (Ann. Report, Kenya, 1966).