Marketing & Business Profile : Sweet Potato (Ipomoea batatas)

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Sweet potato is an annual root crop that is grown and used widely across Jamaica . There are various unidentified cultivars grown in Jamaica but consumer give preference to smooth, red skin types with white flesh.

Why invest in SWEET POTATO?

  1. High local and export demand
  2. Consistent demand for the product
  3. The ability to harvest 3-8 crops/ year depending on location and variety
  4. Easily grown from cuttings or “slips”
  5. Good cover crop hence weeding is reduced
  6. High yields per hectare with good agricultural practices Production Issues

Sweet potato does best on fertile, friable, well-defined, free draining soils. The crop can be cultivated all year round so long moisture is available. The ideal production areas are St. Catherine, St. Ann , St. James and St. Elizabeth.

The main cultivars now propagated are Blue bud, Clarendon, Flog hall, Mother Edwards, Quarter million, and Six weeks. Tubers may have smooth or irregular ribbed surface and the skin and flesh may range from pure white through cream, yellow, orange, pink to a very deep purple depending upon the amount of various carotenoid pigments present and the presence or absence of anthocyanins (plant pigments).


Currently the cost to establish an hectare of sweet potato is $193,020. Marketable yield is 12,868 kg with a cost of production of $15.00 / kg.

Market Potential

Sweet potato enters both the local and export markets.

a) Local Market.

I) Fresh. Local demand small to medium mature tubers. Housewives, supermarkets, green groceries, hotels, restaurants and municipal markets.

ii) Processed – puddings and chips

b) Export market

Sweet potato is sold to the USA , UK

In 2004 STATIN data showed Jamaica exporting 1,263,849 kg at a value of $95,592,945.00

Table 1. Export Data for Sweet Potato (2000 - 2004)


year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
Volume (kg) 1,072,683   11,265,513 1,467,297 1,263,849*
Value ($) 63,436,655   74,467,034 103,673,765 95,592,945

*Source - STATIN


To maintain existence in the market farmers have to be knowledgeable of the sweet potato weevil, which can cause severe damage to the tubers. Good agricultural practices (GAP) along with good pest management are critical.

Remember good pest free tubers will keep us ahead in the market.

Market Price

This ranges between $44.00 - 55.00 / kg for the local market while it is

purchased by the exporters at $ 36.40 - 44.00 / kg. Prices may vary depending on the demand on the varieties and area of production.

Export requirement

Tubers preferred for the export trade should be red skinned with white flesh, skin intact, free from cuts and bruises and chemical residue. They should be round, oval or elongated with no unusual outgrowths and be o.25 - 1.0 kg (0.5 - 3.0 lb) in weight.

For further information, contact your nearest RADA office or Marketing officers at: 
St. James - 9521879

St. Mary - 9942632, 9942436

St. Andrew - 9271570-1

Manchester - 9620477-9

Agro Export Centre - 9239366

Prepared by J. Lawrence & B. Martin

RADA Hope Gardens

Kingston 6. 9771158-63