Strategies for Enhancing Productivity and Profitability of Irish Potato in Mbeya District, Tanzania
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This study investigated strategies for enhancing productivity and profitability of Irish potato in the Mbeya District, Tanzania. A cross-sectional research design was employed whereby data were collected through interviews, survey questionnaire, and documentary reviews. Data from a sample of 192 smallholder farmers were analysed by employing descriptive and inferential statistics. Findings indicated that the average farm size under Irish potato production was about 1 acre. A majority of smallholder had poor agronomic practices and used local varieties. The average yield was 6,853 kg of Irish potato per acre (6.85 tons per acre). The gross return per acre was TZS 4,690,022, while the total variable cost was TZS 1,926,402 making the gross margin of TZS 2,763,620 per acre. Although this profit margin seems low it is, in fact, higher than expected mainly because data was collected during low season when farm gate prices were relatively high. Education level of a farmer, access to credit, membership in farmers' groups, farm size, and household size significantly (p<0.05) influenced Irish potato profitability among smallholder farmers. The strategies for enhancing productivity included distribution of improved potato varieties, training smallholders on good agronomic practices (GAP), and sensitizing smallholders to form or join farmer groups or associations for collective marketing.