Participation of small scale farmers in supplying Irish Potatoes to the local Markets: Case study of Lusaka District

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Chanda, Moses M.
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The University of Zambia
Irish Potatoes (Solarium tuberosum) are an important source of food, employment and income in developing countries (FAQ, 2008). Irish potato is the world's fourth largest food crop after wheat, rice and maize. In Lusaka, most of the local potatoes which are sold on the market are produced by commercial farmers, like Buyabamba farm. There is little known statistics showing small scale participation in supplying Irish potatoes to the local market. Small-scale farmers remain very important suppliers of fresh produce (except Irish potato) to urban markets such as Lusaka (FSRP, CSO, 2007). Most of the potatoes sold through the formal retail sector in Zambia are produced by large-scale farmers, mainly under irrigation (Faostat, 2008). A survey of smallholder and medium scale agricultural households in Zambia carried out in 2001/2002 also confirms this paucity of data on potato production since the study did not report potatoes as one of the crops grown by these farmers. This means that small-scale producers and medium farmers under rain fed conditions produce minimal potatoes which are consumed at the farm level. Identification of SSF who don't grow and supply Irish potatoes is very important to determine factors hindering the SSF from participating in supplying Irish potatoes to the local markets. This paper uses data from a survey which was carried out in Makeni and Lusaka west of Lusaka district. These farmers were SSF living in farm households. Among the factors hindering SSF from participating in supplying potatoes were; inadequate knowledge on Irish potatoes, high input cost especially seeds and little interest by farmers. The findings suggest a need to increase extension work through different extension methods and approaches to provide knowledge and arouse interest in farmers. Also suggested is the need to start producing seeds locally by plant breeders. And in this way participation of SSF in supplying Irish potatoes will increase.
Potatoes-Lusaka, Zambia , Farm Produce-Marketing , Potato Industry-Zambia