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Potato farmers in Kenya close to a deal with KFC.

From L-R: Dr Bimal Kantaria, Lawrence Omuhaka, Harry Kimtai, Ms Flora Mutahi, and Agatha Thuo during the 2nd National Agriculture Summit at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Headquarters Loresho, Nairobi. [Nanjinia Wamuswa, Standard]

In the next two months, Kenyan potatoes will be on the menu of the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). This follows an intervention by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET) and the American fast food chain.

ASNET chairman Bimal Kantaria, said they called the leadership of KFC, and together with the Potato Council of Kenya came up with a strategy of how KFC would use Kenyan potatoes.

Bimal Kantaria, Agriculture Sector Network (ASNET) chairman:
 
"Now we have two companies in Kenya who have invested in technologies that would freeze, dry chips and supply to KFC. It is a work in progress, but we are excited that Kenyan investors have joined this business."
He said they are now encouraging potato farmers to grow the type that KFC wants. The fast food chain uses the Markies variety.

Bimal Kantaria:
 
"The flavour KFC want for chips is very specific. The company said as long as the potatoes are of the right quality, they will buy from us. We are working to have long term contract with these potato processors. There is enough capacity for processing these potatoes. In the next two months, we will have Kenyan potatoes on KFC menu."
Shortage of potatoes

Bimal, who is also the Elgon Kenya Managing Director, was speaking during the second National Agriculture Summit at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) headquarters in Loresho, Nairobi.

The theme of the summit is ‘Accelerating Private Sector Investment In Agriculture for Growth and Transformation’. Early this year, KFC faced a shortage of potatoes in its outlets in Kenya following delays from its overseas supplies forcing them to offer customers alternative foods.

Although potatoes are easily available, the company could not buy from Kenyan farmers because of its strict quality standards.

The summit

The two-day summit was meant to identify opportunities to enhance growth, efficiency, productivity and sustainability across agricultural value chains as well as provide feedback on any evidence based policy recommendations.

Speaking during the event, State Department of Livestock PS Harry Kimtai said the government will continue to engage ASNET to align policies that will facilitate agribusiness.

He said one of the challenges Kenya is facing, is high cost of production. However, he said there are measures to bring down the cost of feeds, as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, during Mashujaa Day Speech, that Ministry of Agriculture to work closely with the National Treasury to come up with a framework of reducing the cost of animal feeds.

Strategic approaches

Lawrence Omuhaka, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, represented Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya, who had been invited as the chief guest. Munya promised government support for the private sector to improve food security.

Peter Munya:
 
"Transforming the agriculture sector will provide the tools to combat price and volatility, improving the environment for private investment, and developing more strategic approaches to lower the country’s dependence on food imports."
Others at the summit included KEPSA Chairperson and ASNET Trustees Flora Mutahi, ATO Coordinator Thule Lenneiye, Head German of Development Cooperation Daniel Guenther, Myra Bernardi of ARD and other stakeholders in agriculture.
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