Starting a potato farming business in South Africa is a very profitable business venture. Potatoes are a strategic food security crop owing to their richness in starch. This makes them very important because carbohydrates are an essential element of a balanced diet. There is a large local demand for potatoes in South Africa, with 2 million tonnes being sold per year in South Africa, and the excess exported to other countries. . South Africans eat potatoes in a variety of ways, including as fries, wedges, boiled potatoes, and mashed potatoes. Restaurants, hotels, lodges, and individuals all need potatoes on a daily basis.  This article will outline how to start a potato farming business in South Africa, and the potato farming business plan – PDF, Word and Excel.

Before you start the potato farming business, there are some important decisions which you have to make. You have to decide on the size of your potato production business ie how many hectares of potatoes you will farm.  There are many different potato varieties/cultivars, so you have to select which one you will farm, the season you are going to carry out your potato farming, and your target market. The size of your potato farming business will depend on the size of land you have, the amount of capital you have, and your target market. It’s important that you have a good potato production business plan before you venture into this business.

Land for Potato Farming Business

Land is a primary requirement and must be suitable for potato production. The essence of potato production is to ensure you reap yields that are as high as possible. When it comes to potato farming, soil fertility is of utmost importance. The soil must have impeccable qualities such as optimum aeration and lack of toxicity. Potatoes can thrive in virtually any type of soil with the exception of soils whose salinity and alkalinity is too high. The ideal soil should be loose enough to allow the growth of tubers. Soil should essentially be loam, sandy soil with good drainage and aeration. Organic matter should be incorporated into the soil in order to augment its richness.

A soil pH of between 5.2 and 6.4 is most suitable for potato farming. Lower pH will cause poor and abnormal tuber growth whilst higher pH will lead to problems with common scab. Bear in mind that prior to planting; the soil needs to be thoroughly prepared. In principle, at least three ploughings accompanied by frequent harrowing and rolling has to be done prior. This is meant to cause the soil to be soft, well-drained and well-aerated enough for optimum growth of the potatoes.

Machinery & Equipment for Potato Production Business

You will need different kinds of machinery and equipment for your potato horticulture business. The land will need to be prepared and that’ll require varying levels of mechanisation. Small tracts of land might be prepared with hand-held implements without any problems. In some areas such as rural areas the use of animal drawn implements can come in handy. However, for much bigger potato farming businesses, there’ll be need for machinery & equipment such as tractors, fertiliser spreaders, sprayers, diggers, harvesters, irrigation equipment, ridgers, amongst many others. You might not necessarily have to purchase all this equipment; most of it you can simply hire.

The other needs will have to do with power generation as some of the operations such as irrigation will need power. You can incorporate the use of fuel-powered pumps also or leveraging on solar energy. You’ll also need to have to stand-by generators to cushion yourself against lengthy power outages. Higher level of mechanisation in your potato farming operations will lead to higher efficiency hence higher profitability. Your potato farming business plan should cater for the costs of purchasing or hiring machinery and equipment.

Potato Farming Inputs

Potato seeds are one of the most important and obvious inputs in this business. There are many different potato cultivars/varieties available in South Africa. The varieties/cultivars differ in shape, colour, skin texture, size, yield, and days to maturity. Some of the varieties/cultivars used by South African potato farmers include Mondial , Sifra , Avalanche , Valor , Fianna , Up To Date (UTD) , BP1 , Lanorma, Almera, Markies, Fabula, Innovator, Hertha and the Frito-Lay cultivar FL2108.  The factors that affect your choice of which cultivar to use include seed availability, yield, maturity, disease resistance, and market.  It is important that you purchase your potato seeds from certified potato seed suppliers. If you buy poor quality potato seeds, your potatoes will not grow to their full potential and you will get poor yields. Commercial farming potato yields in South Africa average 35 000 – 50 000 KG per hectare depending on the variety and production system.

Fertilizers are required to ensure soil fertility and support potato growth. For effective growth, potatoes require plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients should be provided via fertilisers and manure to promote growth of the potatoes.  Herbicides for effective weed control are important when carrying out potato farming. You can use herbicides like gramoxone and frontier  among others depending on the type of weeds at your potato farm. Fungicides and insecticides are essential  for protection of your plants against insects and fungi. The chemicals you can use include Chloroflo, Mancolax, tebuconazole and fastac just to mention a few.

The costs of acquiring all these inputs should be included in your potato farming budgets.

Pests and Disease Management

Potatoes can be attacked by various insects,  and the most common ones are aphids, small, sucking insects that can cause leaf deformation on potatoes. Other pests include. Wireworms, which are dark yellow, long beetle larvae that eat deep tunnels into the tubers, and cutworms, which are caterpillars of moths. The Colorado potato beetle is the most common pest that potato growers have to deal with. These can eat large amounts of potato leaves while growing into bigger pink blobs. If they are left alone, they can destroy a whole potato plant. To prevent these pests, practice crop rotation. Mulching with some hay or straw can also prevent pests from attacking your potatoes. Replanting tubers in the same place often leads to infestation, and pathogens spread easily through the soil. Potato diseases are usually caused by bacteria and fungi. These diseases usually cause soft, rotten spots on potatoes that often make the potatoes inedible. The main carrier of bacterial diseases is usually an infected tuber. The best prevention strategy is to purchase certified, healthy seed potatoes from a reputable supplier. Fungi can also cause a variety of potato diseases. When it comes to dealing with such situations, the best defense is prevention. Viruses on tubers are usually transmitted by pests, especially aphids and some plant-damaging nematodes. Viruses cause growth disorders and leaf symptoms, which result in yield losses that can go up to 80%. Always grow resistant varieties and certified seed potatoes in tandem with crop rotation. Viruses usually result in injuries to plants when earthing up and tilling.  In the event of a pest or disease outbreak, remove infected plants as soon as possible, while the tubers are still safe to eat.

Labour for Potato Farming Business

When doing potato farming business, you will need to hire part time farm workers as and when necessary. Part-time labourers will be required because there’s a lot of seasonal work to be done. Some of the activities will include seed planting, sprouting , discing,  applying fertilisers, ploughing, harvesting, grading and packing amongst several others. The part time farm workers should be paid according to the number of days worked so as to cut costs.  You also require supervisors, farm manager, finance & accounting staff, and logistics staff depending on the scale of your potato farming business. The wages and salaries of your workers should be included in your potato farming business plan.

Harvesting And Storage of Potatoes

When harvesting your potatoes, start your harvest early; this could be two to three months after planting them in the ground. This usually happens a week or two after the flowers appear, plus you can harvest them when they are young or mature. Mature, full-size potatoes are known as maincrop potatoes. These maincrop potatoes are often cured and stored for later use. Maincrop potatoes can be harvested when most of the top foliage has withered. Small, round, immature potatoes are called new potatoes. New potatoes are typically consumed with the skin on. You can harvest new potatoes when the plants begin to flower, which is usually about 60 to 70 days after planting. It is best to harvest your potatoes on a warm, dry day when it has not rained. Early potatoes store for about five days in a cool, dry, and dark position, so you should harvest them only when you need to sell them. You must note that some potatoes can become sweet when stored. This is caused by the conversion of starch to sugar, which is used in the tuber’s breathing process. In order to prevent the sweet taste, you can take the potatoes out of storage so that the extra sugar can revert back to starch.


The market for potatoes in South Africa is very huge and ever increasing. South Africa consume more than 1.8 million tonnes of potatoes per year. Potatoes can be consumed as fresh potatoes or after processing. Fresh potatoes are baked, boiled, or fried and used in a staggering range of recipes: mashed potatoes, potato pancakes, potato dumplings, twice-baked potatoes, potato soup, potato salad to name a few. The South African processing sector uses potatoes primarily for three main processed products, namely potato crisps, frozen and fresh French fries/Chips. Potatoes can also be used to make feed for cattle, pigs, and chickens; processed into starch for industry; and re-used as seed tubers for growing the next season’s potato crop.

You can supply your potatoes to individuals, national fresh produce markets, organisations, food processors, restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, wholesalers, hawkers etc. Your potato farming business plan ought to include a proper market analysis and marketing plan to use in your potato farming business.

Advantages of Potato Farming

There are a number of reasons why you should consider growing potatoes. One of the reasons is that potato farming is inexpensive and does not require much. Potatoes are easy to grow and do not require machinery or processing. Tubers are easy to grow, even as a small family business. You can grow them over a small area of land. Plus, you do not require a lot of land to grow potatoes. If you live in an area where there’s only a small piece of land to till, you can still grow them in sacks, food-grade buckets, cardboard boxes, and tall homemade containers. There is a huge market for potatoes in South Africa because they can be considered a staple for both high- and low income earners.


For an in-depth analysis of the potato farming business in South Africa, purchase our potato farming business plan. We decided to introduce the business plans after noting that many South Africans were venturing into the potatoes production business without a full understanding of the industry, market, how to run the business, the risks involved, profitability of the business and the costs involved, leading to a high failure rate of their businesses.

Our business plan will make it easier for you to launch and run a potato production business successfully, fully knowing what you are going into, and what’s needed to succeed in the business. It will be easier to plan and budget as the potato production business plan will lay out all the costs involved in setting up and running the potato farming business. The business plan is designed specifically for the South African market.


The potato production business plan can be used for many purposes including:

  • Raising capital from investors/friends/relatives
  • Applying for a bank loan
  • Start-up guide to launch your potato farming business
  • As a potato farming project proposal
  • Assessing profitability of the potato farming business
  • Finding a business partner
  • Assessing the initial start-up costs so that you know how much to save
  • Manual for current business owners to help in business and strategy formulation


The business plan includes, but not limited to:

  • Market Analysis
  • Industry Analysis
  • 5 Year Automated Financial Statements [ Income statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, monthly cash flow projections (3 years monthly cash flow projections, the remaining two years annually),break even analysis, payback period analysis, start-up costs, financial graphs, revenue and expenses, Bank Loan Amortisation]
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Risk Analysis
  • SWOT & PEST Analysis
  • Operational Requirements
  • Potato farming guide (Technical Details of how to plant, grow and harvest the potatoes)
  • Operational Strategy
  • Why some South Africans in the potato production business fail, so that you can avoid their mistakes
  • Ways to raise capital to start your potato farming business in South Africa
  • Directory [Contact Details for South African suppliers of inputs (seeds, fertilisers, equipment etc) and contacts of potato farming training companies in South Africa]

The Potato Farming Business Plan package consist of 4 files

  1. Potato Farming Business Plan – PDF file (Comprehensive – 93 pages)
  2. Potato Farming Business Plan – Editable Word File (Comprehensive – 93 pages)
  3. Potato Farming Business Plan Funding Version – Editable Word File (Short version for applying for a loan – 42 pages)
  4. Potato Farming Business Plan Automated Financial Statements – (Editable Excel file)

The financial statements are automated. This implies that you can change eg the number of hectares, potatoes price per KG etc, and all the other financial statements will automatically adjust to reflect the change. 


We decided to make the business plan affordable to anyone who would want to start the business, and the price for the pre-written business plan is only 500 Rand.

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The business plan package is a zipped compressed file containing the PDF, Word and Excel documents. To open the package after downloading it, just right click, and select Extract All. If you have any problems in downloading and opening the files, email us on and we will assist you.

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If you want to purchase multiple business plans at once using Instant EFT then  click here: Business Plans Store

The business plan package is a zipped compressed file containing the PDF, Word and Excel documents. To open the package after downloading it, just right click, and select Extract All. If you have any problems in downloading and opening the files, email us on and we will assist you.

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