Research Solutions Africa found that potatoes are the second most consumed vegetable in Kenyan households. This superfood is the 2nd most important food crop in Kenya, after maize, and the 4th most important in the world. Beaten to the top by maize, rice and wheat.
The commercial value of planting this crop is well exploited here. Are you growing potatoes? There are 2.7 million Kenyans employed in the potato production chain. Don’t be fazed by this if you’re thinking of getting into potato business. There remains a lot of opportunity for new entrants.
One reason is because productivity of our potato farms is still low. Kenyan farms average only 6.7 tons of potatoes per hectare. We have some way to go before reaching average yields in Egypt and South Africa. The two average 40 tons per hectare.
There is also a lot of opportunities, in value addition, that remain underexploited. This is partly because of little production of processor-friendly potato varieties in Kenya. So, if old-fashioned tilling of the land remains your thing you can learn how to plant potatoes of this variety.
Still, value addition present new opportunities and a chance to create many more jobs. We saw how maize can be made into many more products besides unga. Today, why don’t we explore products that can be made from potatoes here in Kenya:
1. Potato crisps
What did you think we were going to start with? Crisps have been dubbed as the “King of Snack Food.” Now, there are already many companies or factories that make crisps in Kenya. But according to research findings, by the International Potato Center, Kenya still lacks in the areas of packaging and marketing of crisps. This means many consumers always end up opting for alternative snack food in supermarket aisles.
Many Kenyans miss when matters dating were as simple chips, soda and 2nd base. While dating has gotten more complex, the process of making chips remains simple. Kenyan entrepreneurs will be glad to learn that chips can in fact be made at industrial scale for final consumers or restaurants. It involves processes of washing, sorting, pressuring, slicing and freezing. A consumer would only need to boil the pack of chips, picked from a supermarket shelf, to reminisce the simpler days.
Peeling potatoes is a hard enough task for kitchens in homes, restaurants and institutions. For the latter two, it means more costs of doing business because someone has to be paid to peel them. Wouldn’t it be great if a decent number of the middle men in our food value chain opted to add value by peeling potatoes? Even you could do it. This is a simple value addition technique and requires less capital investment to start with.
A sister process to peeling is canning. Potatoes are canned after undergoing pressure cooking to sort of sterilize them. Canning is also a great win for kitchens because the potatoes are bought half-ready for serving. You would need to go industrial (instead of canning at home) to achieve consistency in taste and be able to supply wider networks.
Potato flour is made by crushing and grinding finely whole cooked or raw potatoes. This unga alternative comes with that potato flavor Kenyans seem unable to resist. It can be used to make (bake) bread, cake, chapati and other meals food connoisseurs can come up with.
Another product that comes from grinding potatoes is starch. Potato is the 2nd most common source of plant starch, after maize. We saw that starch is a raw material for many different industries. Further, starch can also be used as a biodegradable alternative in the making of disposable utensils.
Beside potato itself, the waste products from processing of the crop like peels can be used to feed livestock. Potato animal feed is a supplement to what farmers feed their animals.
You probably already know that vodka is made by fermenting and distilling potato starch. Entrepreneurship along the lines of alcoholic beverages is not just about opening another pub. This woman knows. I found a DIY link on making vodka at home – check it out and win in life.4