According to the two research organizations, the new variety will support efforts towards food security as it is highly nutritious and climate resilient.
Purple fleshed sweet potato made its way to Kenya from Ghana in 2018 with researchers from both KALRO and CIP keen to tap into its potential to boost food and nutrition security efforts.
To ensure its reliability and performance in different agroecologies, CIP and KALRO subjected the purple variety to further rigorous testing through the National Performance Trials.
“After proving its exceptional qualities including taste, nutritional value, and high yield, this extraordinary variety has now been officially released in Kenya, under the name ‘KC-SWEET PURPLE’,” CIP said in a statement.
The variety is good addition to farmers as it has a potential storage root yield of 25t/ha, is resistant to pests like sweet potato weevils and tolerant to Sweetpotato virus disease.
Another advantage is that the roots remain dark purple when boiled which is appealing to children and adults. It has a moderately sweet taste and a dry–floury texture when boiled.
The areas noted for optimal production of ‘KC-SWEET Purple’ are dry land areas in Eastern Kenya, Makueni, Machakos, Kitui, and Tharaka Nithi.
Additionally, potential areas are Siaya, Alupe, Embu, and Kakamega and Coastal areas at Taita-taveta, and Kwale.
According to data obtained from the National Performance Trail, ‘KC Sweet Purple’ has a maturity period of 120 – 150 days and a yield of 15.74t/ha.
It also has good commercial potential with CIP noting that its high levels of beta-carotene, iron, zinc, and anthocyanin also make it attractive to the food processing industry as a healthy food additive and natural food colorant.
Interested farmers can source clean planting material from Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Institute (KALRO) Kiboko or from decentralized vine multipliers registered under JUA Sustainable African company limited based in Bungoma.
Those who may be interested in pre-basic seed for further multiplication can buy them from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services, Muguga.
Sweet potato is a tropical crop that thrives in warm and humid climates. In Kenya, the crop is mainly grown in the western and central parts of the country.
The two primary sweet potato varieties grown in Kenya are the orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) and the white-fleshed sweet potato (WFSP).
Orange-fleshed sweet potato (OFSP) is rich in vitamin A, making it an essential crop in the fight against malnutrition in the country. On the other hand, white-fleshed sweet potato (WFSP) is mainly grown for its tubers, which are used as food for both humans and animals.
Sweet potato farming in Kenya is mostly done by small-scale farmers who rely on traditional methods of farming.
These farmers usually plant the crop using vines, which are cut from mature sweet potato plants and left to dry for several days. The vines are then planted in ridges, which have been prepared by tilling the soil and adding manure.