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
Potato Area Harvested in 2015 :69361.00haFAO data (imputation)
Sweet Potato Production in 2015 :65473.00tonnesOfficial data
Sweet Potato Yield in 2015 :29056.00hg/haCalculated data
Sweet Potato Area Harvested in 2015 :22534.00haFAO data (imputation)
Potato Production in 2014 :2247500.00tonnesOfficial data
Potato Production in 2014 :2247500.00tonnesOfficial data
Potato Yield in 2014 :356027.00hg/haCalculated data
Consumption Statistics South Africa
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed) , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2004:29.61kg/capita/yearPotatoes (Fresh and Processed)
Sweet Potatoes , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2004:1.00kg/capita/yearSweet Potatoes
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed) , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2003:24.53kg/capita/yearPotatoes (Fresh and Processed)
Sweet Potatoes , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2003:0.89kg/capita/yearSweet Potatoes
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed) , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2002:27.60kg/capita/yearPotatoes (Fresh and Processed)
Sweet Potatoes , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2002:0.96kg/capita/yearSweet Potatoes
Potatoes (Fresh and Processed) , Consumption (Crop Equivalent) in 2001:30.73kg/capita/yearPotatoes (Fresh and Processed)
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