Potato Initiative AfricaIn the following the economic results of the tested technologies in Kenya will be presented and compared with the business as usual scenario (farmers’ practice) and the scenario which reflects the recommendations of the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO). For the trials it needs to be stated that the economic analysis was conducted for a very small number of demonstration plots and therefore, doesn’t show the full picture that can be generalized. Further crop seasons applying modernized technologies need to be analyzed.

Furthermore, as for the imported potato varieties no processing market existed, prices were assumed and could therefore differ from real market prices. For Meru and Bungoma, the field trials were conducted without the mechanization component. Overall, yield levels under the modernized package were higher compared to the farmers’ practice and the research recommendations for all sites. The Nyandarua sites showed a general lower yield potential than the other locations in Naivasha, Meru, and Bungoma. In Nyandarua sites the modernized package yielded about 2.5 fold higher than the farmers practice (6 to 8 t/ha) and about 30% more than the KALRO recommendations which varied between 13 and 15 t/ha.

However, yields of the preferred local variety Shangi have been similar to Variety 2 and 30% higher than Variety 3 and Variety 1, respectively. The higher yields from modern technologies could be attributed to a number of factors: use of certified seed potatoes (including Shangi), well-prepared soils, use of specific fertilizer for potatoes, mechanized operations, and improved crop protection. Furthermore, the difference in performance might indicate better suitability to some specific sites influenced by conditions such as soil type and weather conditions.

Economic Analysis

Modernized Package
Mechanization, specific fertilizer suitable for potatoes, crop protection measures, and certified seed potatoes. For the modernized package certified seed potatoes of the varieties Variety 1, Variety 3, and Variety 2 were used as well as certified seed potatoes of the local variety Shangi.

Recommendations from KALRO
Hand labor, fertilizer that is applied by farmers (DAP) but a higher rate (500kg of DAP), crop protection measures (4 sprays of Ridomil/Mancozeb), and certified seed potatoes of the local variety Shangi.

Farmers’ Practice
Hand labor, DAP fertilizer (150kg of DAP), crop protection measures (3 sprays Ridomil/Mancozeb), and farmer saved seed potatoes of the local Shangi in Nyandarua County and other local varieties (including Alcar, Asante, and Unica) in Meru and Bungoma.

Explanations for the Tables

1. Farmers’ practice own saved seed (unmarketable small tubers);
Research seed price Kisima Farm 2,500KES/50kg;
Modernized package imported and locally multiplied seed price 3,000KES/50kg

2. Farmers’ practice 150kg DAP (3,000KES/50kg);
Research 500kg DAP (3,000KES/50kg);
Modernized package 600kg blend (3,5000KES/50kg)

3. Farmers’ practice 3 sprays Ridomil/Mancozeb;
Research 4 sprays Ridomil/Mancozeb;
Modernized package average SP1 and SP2 spray programs


4. Farmers’ practice and research hand labor rate USD 3/day
Modernized package mechanized (rates according to cost calculated by service provider, plus hand labor for collecting and bagging at harvest rate USD 3/day (Machinery was not used in Bungoma and Meru)

5. Farmers’ practice and research 19% losses from fork jembe harvests based on GIZ study; 0.25% harvest losses measured at field demo sited.

General information: For the economic analysis it is assumed that the harvested potatoes are either all sold at the open market or to a processor.

In general field trials show a better performance of imported varieties compared to local non-certified varieties. However, certified seed potatoes of the local variety Shangi has the potential for even higher yields than imported varieties given the specific agronomic conditions. While conducting economic analysis, yield is only one parameter for determining farmers’ benefit. Other factors that need to be considered are input costs, e.g. seed potatoes, fertilizer, crop protection measures, machinery, and labor as well as the market price for the produce. Having a closer look at the input costs, it can be seen that the farmers’ practice has the lowest costs since farmers usually use their own potatoes from the previous season as seed potatoes and sometimes buy additional potato seeds from other farmers (the 300KES in the table represent the opportunity costs), apply less/none (and sometimes not suitable) fertilizer and chemicals. Thus the costs for inputs under the farmers’ practice are less than half compared to the KALRO recommended practice and the modernized package.

Comparing the KALRO recommended practice with the modernized package shows that the KALRO recommendations have slightly lower input costs due to lower costs for pesticides and certified seeds. Also within the modernized package there is some variation, since costs for seed potatoes are lower when using certified Shangi seed potatoes instead of the imported varieties. With regard to the working expenses which consist of hand labor and machinery use (land preparation, hilling, ploughing, and harvesting) it can be observed that there is no significant difference between the three scenarios for the costs. The higher need and costs for labor under the farmers’ practice outweigh the costs for the machinery service (provided by a service provider) under the modernized package. However and most importantly, the machinery service offered under the modernized package guarantees a lower harvest loss which contributes to higher revenues for the farmers.

Since the imported varieties are new to Kenya a higher willingness of uptakers to pay a premium price for those varieties could generally not be observed. For that reason prices have been considered equally for all varieties in the above shown tables. The only difference made was for the marketing channel as table potatoes were priced at 170 KES/t and potatoes suitable for processing were priced at 200 KES/t. As the local varieties are only suitable as table potatoes the processing scenario was not considered for those. Having analyzed all parameters for determining the profit so far, the following can be observed:

The farmers’ practice is the least profitable scenario, since yield levels are too low and they still cannot outweigh the low input costs

The KALRO recommended practice showed higher input costs and also a higher yield on average compared to the farmers’ practice. For some cases the KALRO recommended practice could compete with the modernized package. Depending on the varieties used the modernized package showed some variation. The certified local variety Shangi reached similar yields compared to the imported varieties with lower costs for seed purchase. This makes Shangi the most viable options for table potatoes under the modernized package. However, with regard to the processing sector the higher costs for imported seed potatoes can be compensated by higher prices received from processors, which then can result in similar profits for farmers. Certified varieties both local and imported with the use of modern production technologies have shown their potential of increasing yields and profits when being used correctly and the conditions are conducive. But even though the modernized package shows highest economic potential in terms of farmers’ benefit, there are also risks that need to be considered.

A minimum yield of close to 16t/ha has to be achieved with the modernized package inclusive of the varieties, to cover the far higher costs compared to the KALRO recommendations and in particular to the farmers’ practices. This means that farmers face a high financial risk if crop failures occur or if farmers are not being adequately trained and supervised closely. Besides that external factors such as droughts put them under a high risk by making such an investment. The technologies used for the demonstration sites should therefore only be introduced if mitigation options are predefined and capacity development measures are anchored.