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.
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