Sweet potato is an annual root crop that is grown and used widely across Jamaica . There are various unidentified cultivars grown in Jamaica but consumer give preference to smooth, red skin types with white flesh.
Why invest in SWEET POTATO?
High local and export demand
Consistent demand for the product
The ability to harvest 3-8 crops/ year depending on location and variety
Easily grown from cuttings or “slips”
Good cover crop hence weeding is reduced
High yields per hectare with good agricultural practices Production Issues
Sweet potato does best on fertile, friable, well-defined, free draining soils. The crop can be cultivated all year round so long moisture is available. The ideal production areas are St. Catherine, St. Ann , St. James and St. Elizabeth.
The main cultivars now propagated are Blue bud, Clarendon, Flog hall, Mother Edwards, Quarter million, and Six weeks. Tubers may have smooth or irregular ribbed surface and the skin and flesh may range from pure white through cream, yellow, orange, pink to a very deep purple depending upon the amount of various carotenoid pigments present and the presence or absence of anthocyanins (plant pigments).
Currently the cost to establish an hectare of sweet potato is $193,020. Marketable yield is 12,868 kg with a cost of production of $15.00 / kg.
Sweet potato enters both the local and export markets.
a) Local Market.
I) Fresh. Local demand small to medium mature tubers. Housewives, supermarkets, green groceries, hotels, restaurants and municipal markets.
ii) Processed – puddings and chips
b) Export market
Sweet potato is sold to the USA , UK
In 2004 STATIN data showed Jamaica exporting 1,263,849 kg at a value of $95,592,945.00
Table 1. Export Data for Sweet Potato (2000 - 2004)
*Source - STATIN
To maintain existence in the market farmers have to be knowledgeable of the sweet potato weevil, which can cause severe damage to the tubers. Good agricultural practices (GAP) along with good pest management are critical.
Remember good pest free tubers will keep us ahead in the market.
This ranges between $44.00 - 55.00 / kg for the local market while it is
purchased by the exporters at $ 36.40 - 44.00 / kg. Prices may vary depending on the demand on the varieties and area of production.
Tubers preferred for the export trade should be red skinned with white flesh, skin intact, free from cuts and bruises and chemical residue. They should be round, oval or elongated with no unusual outgrowths and be o.25 - 1.0 kg (0.5 - 3.0 lb) in weight.
For further information, contact your nearest RADA office or Marketing officers at:
St. James - 9521879
St. Mary - 9942632, 9942436
St. Andrew - 9271570-1
Manchester - 9620477-9
Agro Export Centre - 9239366
Prepared by J. Lawrence & B. Martin
RADA Hope Gardens
Kingston 6. 9771158-63