Introduced to East Africa by British farmers in the 1880s, the potato has grown in importance - both as a staple food and as a source of farmer incomes - over the past 30 years. Measured by quantity harvested, it now ranks as the country's No. 2 food crop, after maize, with production in 2007 totalling around 800 000 tonnes.
The potato in Kenya is grown mainly by small scale farmers, many of them women, although some larger-scale growers specialize in commercial production. Cultivation is concentrated in highland areas of from 1 200 to 3 000 m above sea level.
Nearly all of Kenya's potatoes are consumed locally, at an average rate of almost 25 kg per capita a year. Kiazi is relished not only by the rural people who grow them, but by higher-income urban dwellers as well - while in some African countries potato is considered a "poor person's food", in Kenya it is considered a high quality and prestigious food item.