It is still an uphill climb for Benguet’s potato growers (Phillipines) who hope to clinch a niché in the lucrative French fries industry.

    The province produces most of the country’s supply of potatoes. It is there where the best varieties are grown. And yet, up until now, orders for potatoes to be made into chips or fries are way below those imported by giant fast-food chains like Jollibee and McDonald’s.

    Thanks to experts from the Benguet State University (BSU) here, the province’s farms now boast of Igorota, Solibao, Ganza, and Bengueta potato varieties that possess the desired dry matter content for those yellow, crispy and tasty French fries.

    But according to the Northern Philippines Root Crops Research and Training Center (NPRCRTC) at BSU, the strict quality criteria of multinational food chains have kept the province’s potato growers from carving a slice of the market.

    But even if big companies were to give local potato varieties a fighting chance, the ability of local farmers to package and supply the volume needed for French fries remains suspect.

    “Benguet farmers could not cope with the demand schedule for potatoes of fast-food chains,” said Loreto Buyan-an, a farmer from Mankayan town.