Benjamin M. Kivuva, Francis J. Musembi, Stephen M. Githiri, Craig G. Yencho, Julia Sibiya


Sweetpotato is one of the most important staple food crops with significant role for food security and also a potential commercial crop in many sub Saharan African countries. In Kenya, its production is hindered by numerous biotic, abiotic and social factors. A baseline survey study was conducted in central, eastern and western Kenya between September and December 2012, to determine the farmers’ preferences of sweetpotato varieties, production constraints and farmers’ coping strategies. A structured questionnaire was randomly administered to 345 farmers in five counties. Data on households demographics, sweetpotato varieties grown, sources of seed, cultural practices, and production constraints were collected and analysed using statistical package for social scientists (SPSS). Results indicated that 60% of the farmers interviewed were women and family sizes varied between 3-5 persons in 55% of the households. Farm sizes ranged 0.41-0.8 ha with 90% of sweetpotato being grown on 0.24 ha or less. The main food crops grown on the surveyed farms included maize, beans, sweetpotato, cassava, sorghum, and pigeon peas, while the main cash crops were; kale, banana, sugarcane, bean, maize, sweetpotato and groundnut. The average sweetpotato yield on the farms surveyed ranged from 5.5-7.4 t ha-1. The preferred sweetpotato varieties were Vitaa, Kembu 10, and Kabonde because they were orange fleshed with high beta carotene. Production constraints in the three regions were basically similar, with 35% of the farmers identifying weevils as the major pest, and sweetpotato virus disease (SPVD) as the major disease. Drought was identified by 28% of the farmers as a major production constraint. Farmers indicated the use of clean seed, high yielding varieties, high planting density, and manure application as some of the strategies they used to cope with the production constraints. To improve sweetpotato production in Kenya, these production constraints need to be addressed.


Food security, farmers’ preferences, production constraints, households, sweetpotato genotypes

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