BRITISH potato seed planted in Kenya has produced exceptional yields following successful trials across three different farms in country, with the hope of providing a new export market for British seeds.

Aiming to assess the yield and quality, four seed varieties were imported to Kenya for testing after a bilateral agreement was signed by the Scottish and Kenyan governments in late 2016.

While all four varieties have grown well, Cara has been the standout performer with average yields across all three farms of more than 50 tonnes per hectare. Hermes and Russet Burbank also grew well with an average yield of 41t per hectare, while Atlantic produced 35t per hectare.

The yields achieved in Kenya closely mirror average yields in Britain which tend to be around 46 tonnes per hectare, however most farmers in Kenya are used to yields of around 10 tonnes a hectare as 95% use poor quality home saved seed rather than high quality imported seed. The seed is blamed for endemic spread of diseases and the Kenyan Government is keen to approve new high health seed varieties which will not only limit the spread of such diseases but also improve yield.

Rob Burns, AHDB head of crop trade market development, said: “We are really pleased to see our seed performing so well in Kenya, although not surprised, as all these free varieties grow well in hotter, drier climates.

“It’s particularly positive to see that three of our four varieties are performing at a similar standard or better than what’s called the ‘check variety’, which in this case is a high quality variety called Dutch Robyjin. Even Atlantic, which is not quite yielding as well, is not far behind.

“We are also now looking into other African markets, such as Rwanda, which we will be visiting later this month on a trade mission with the Department for International Development (DFID).”

Jackie Gibson, exports coordinator at SASA, believes that another strong season could open up significant opportunities for exporters.

“I think we are likely to see the strong results we have seen in the first season replicated in the second and if we get good yields, combined with other positive characteristics, such a better dry matter and disease resistance, we will definitely see GB varieties added to the national list.

“After that it will be vital to translate this success in gaining market access to commercial success for British exporters through promoting the approved varieties to potential customers.”

The AHDB Export team and SASA will continue their work to explore new markets at this week’s international trade show Fruit Logistica where they will be showcasing potato and horticulture products with British exporters.

The four varieties have now been planted for a second season and if they perform well once more they could be approved for export to Kenya.