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The Potato Sector
Dutch seafarers heading for East Asia probably brought the potato to South Africa in the 1600s (it is thought sailors encouraged potato growing at ports of call so they could re-supply with fresh tubers during ocean voyages).

South Africa's potato output has grown strongly over the past decades, from 1.2 million tonnes in 1990 to a record 2.5 million tonnes in 2015. In the same period, the potato farming area actually declined, from 63,000 ha to 52,000 ha. Most of the 532 farms growing potatoes (2017) are relatively large farms, increasingly under irrigation (now around 80%), with yields averaging around 34 tonnes per hectare.

South Africa boasts a sophisticated seed potato industry and - thanks largely to the country's rapid rate of urbanization - a vibrant potato processing sector, which utilizes some 400 000 tonnes of potatoes per year (2015), mainly for frozen french fries and crisps. Annual potato consumption is around 30 kg per person.

Development of the South African potato industry between 1990 and 2017 (Courtesy: Potatoes South Africa)

The most common potato varieties grown in South Africa are Mondial and Sifra (2017).

Additional varieties grown in South Africa include: Markies, Avalanche, Valor, Lanorma, Fabula, Innovator, Hertha and the Frito-Lay cultivar FL2108

Agricultural Statistics South Africa

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Potato Production in 2017: 2,450,540.00 tonnes Official data
Potato Yield in 2017: 361,723.00 hg/ha Calculated data
Potato Area Harvested in 2017: 67,746.00 ha FAO data based on imputation methodology
Sweet Potato Production in 2017: 73,945.00 tonnes Official data
Sweet Potato Yield in 2017: 28,072.00 hg/ha Calculated data
Sweet Potato Area Harvested in 2017: 26,341.00 ha FAO data based on imputation methodology
Potato Production in 2016: 2,150,840.00 tonnes Official data

Consumption Statistics South Africa

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Item-consumption: translated
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed), Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2011: 33.12 kg/capita/year Calculated data Potatoes (Fresh and Processed)
Sweet Potatoes, Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2011: 0.91 kg/capita/year Calculated data Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed), Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2010: 32.32 kg/capita/year Calculated data Potatoes (Fresh and Processed)
Sweet Potatoes, Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2010: 1.15 kg/capita/year Calculated data Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed), Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2009: 28.67 kg/capita/year Calculated data Potatoes (Fresh and Processed)
Sweet Potatoes, Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2009: 1.10 kg/capita/year Calculated data Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed), Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2008: 32.21 kg/capita/year Calculated data Potatoes (Fresh and Processed)