On the road to potato processing in African tropical highlands

A.J. Haverkort, G. Woldegiorgis, M.J. van Koesveld, S. Ntizo, R. Wustman, X. Zhang

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


Potato processing at the industrial level is relatively insignificant in the tropical highlands of Africa in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. No large international companies are present in this area whereas they have successfully established themselves in North Africa (Egypt) and South Africa. The reason for the presence of large French fries (chips) and crisps factories in northern and southern Africa is the availability of growers who have relatively large areas of irrigated land assuring a year-round flow of raw material with the required specification and consistency for the finished product. The objectives of recently carried out investigations in Rwanda and Ethiopia funded by The Netherlands government were to investigate the challenges and opportunities for the establishment of (private) industrial processing facilities. Such factories and installations would create added value through employment in the whole supply chain from breeding new varieties, creating a supply chain of seed and ware (raw material) potatoes, postharvest handling, processing and trade. The study in Rwanda and Ethiopia consisted of the following elements: (i) a quick scan of potato production related to the potential supply of raw material to the industry; (ii) an inventory of current processing at household and restaurant level such as boiling, mashing, and the preparation of French fries and crisps; and (iii) an inventory of processed potato products such as frozen French fries, crisps and mashed potato powder and packed fresh tubers in markets and supermarkets. An estimate was then made of the current and future market for these products. The type of small- and medium-sized equipment needed and their costs was assessed. Historical meteorological data and a crop growth model that calculated attainable yields and water use in the two countries were used for yield gap analyses. From this and from farm surveys the costs and competitiveness of the raw material were derived and from it conclusions regarding the costs of locally produced versus imported finished products. We concluded that the farm-gate potato price, which is related to the cost of production, is quite competitive - in Ethiopia it is about half that of northern Europe and in Rwanda it is about equal to north-western Europe - which is most important in order to be competitive with imports in the future. An investor planned a frozen French fry (chips) factory in Ethiopia to open in 2014. In Rwanda a similar action is planned with government involvement.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPotato and sweetpotato in Africa: transforming the value chains for food and nutrition security
EditorsJ. Low, M. Nyongesa, S. Quinn, M. Parker
ISBN (Print)9781780644202
Publication statusPublished - 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'On the road to potato processing in African tropical highlands'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this