, alone KENYA – Kenya is relying on cassava importation from neighboring countries to meet high local demand which currently exceeds production by 200pc.

According to Self Help Africa Head of Programs Peter Aluoch, local demand for cassava grew to 3 million metric tons (MT) last year, below production of 946,076 MT under 61,592 hectares.

The tuber crop pent-up usage is linked to the expansion of cassava utilization beyond human consumption into use in animal feeds and starch for industries.

“In 2020, the country produced 898,110 MT of cassava from 61,754 ha translating to productivity of 14.54 tons/ha,” Aluoch says. “This is lower compared to 16 – 24 tons/ha in China, Indonesia, and Thailand.”

In the East African region, Kenya is the least producer of cassava, as Uganda produces 4 million MT while Tanzania produces 8 million MT per year, attributable to the lack of clean planting materials, unstructured markets, weak seed systems, and a weak regulatory framework.

In Kenya, cassava is mainly grown in coastal, central, and western Kenya for food, income, and livestock feed.

Root and tuber crops in Kenya are important food crops that have gained increased importance due to their role in food security, ability to withstand drought as well as their potential for commercial processing.

The latest data indicates that the average cassava farm yields are low, at approximately 7–10 MT/ha, compared to the research yield potential of about 50 MT/ha of fresh cassava tubers.

This trend spread across other tubers production in the country. For instance, Farmers Trends reports that Kenya produces 3.68M MT of Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava, and yams which is way below the country’s potential.

The average yield for Irish potatoes, alone, stands at 7MT per ha compared to the potential of 25MT achieved under optimal husbandry practices.

Some of the key challenges facing the subsector include weak and dysfunctional stakeholder institutions, inadequate information, underdeveloped markets, inadequate quality planting materials, low processing levels, low access to financial services, insufficient applied research, and technology development.

Kenya continues to face periodic food and feed shortages arising from unfavorable weather
conditions, poor husbandry practices and lack of adequate quality planting materials.

Other factors include weak farmer’s institutions and linkages across value chains, overreliance on a
limited range of farm enterprises, insufficient information among stakeholders.

Smallholder farmers also have limited access to business development services, financial services and
appropriate technology packages.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.