IRISH POTATO FARMING IN THE SUB-SAHARA AFRICA

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 Potato arrived late in Africa,around the turn of the 20th century.In recent decades,production has been in continual expansion,rising from 2 million tonnes in 1960 to over 30 million tonnes in 2013.Potatoes are grown under a wide range of condition- from irrigated commercial farm in Egypt and South Africa to intensively cultivated tropical highland zones of Eastern and Central Africa,where it is mainly a small farmer's crop.

 In a country like Nigeria,Plateau State could simply be tagged the home of Irish potatoes because of the chilled and favorable weather condition that favors the cultivation of the root crop.Irish potatoes are grown in commercial quantities in Mangu and Bokkos Local Government Areas of the state.These two area councils of Plateau state alone can feed the entire country and beyond with Irish potatoes cultivated in commercial quantity from the area.

This root crop is also exported from Plateau state to neighbouring countries of Ghana,Ivory Coast,Cotonou,Niger Republic and so on.Irish potatoes can be grown three times in a year,either in the rainy or dry season,while the dry season farmers of the root crop irrigate,use organic or inorganic fertilizer to get good output,the rainy season gives same result of good commercial output.

 Communities,where the Irish potatoes markets are situated benefit by way of job creation and employment opportunities for their teeming youths,who participated by helping out in farming,harvesting,bagging and loading into trucks for onward movement to other parts of the country and beyond.A bag of potatoes was sold at a price not less than N10,000 in 2016.The communities also benefit by collecting revenue from each truck that is transporting the crop to other parts of the country.

only constraint the farmers suffer is lack of preservation facilities,as they are forced to sell at a give way price to the agents,who benefit more from the sales than the farmers.Despite the challenges,Plateau is truly the home of Irish Potatoes not just for the country alon but also the whole of West Africa Sub-Sahara region.  

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