KFC says it will start using local potatoes by end of the year

NAIROBI |

 

Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Chief Executive Officer, Jacques Theunissen with Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia in Nairobi on Friday to discuss the possibility of the American fast food chain purchasing potatoes from the county. [Courtesy]

Local producers will start supplying American fast-food restaurant chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) with potatoes by end of this year.

The Nyandarua County Government and KFC held talks to find ways through which KFC can work with farmers through cooperatives or organised youth groups to buy local potatoes.

Governor Francis Kimemia and KFC chief executive Jacques Theunissen agreed on a framework to benefit farmers. This will be in strict compliance with the internationally set standards that will see the franchise maintain its quality while farmers in Nyandarua improve on their farming and storage practices.

KFC imports potatoes from Egypt. The restaurant says the country observes set standards that improve the potato quality, something the Kenyan farmers don’t do.

A recent statement by the franchise that it had run out of chips elicited sharp reactions from stakeholders in the potato value chain. Some termed it as insensitive to Kenyan farmers who were struggling to find a market for their produce.

The County Government and KFC will establish a joint technical committee to address issues, with the next engagement expected next Wednesday.

After the meeting, KFC committed to facilitating a meeting between potential processors and Nyandarua farmers to attain the required standards.

The two parties agreed to link local farmers with seed multiplication and high-quality potatoes production, not just for KFC but other diverse markets.

About 80 per cent of products from KFC in Kenya are locally sourced. They include chicken, buns and vegetables.

Nyandarua potato farmers have welcomed the talks between the county government and KFC.

Nyandarua Potato Farmers Association chairperson Wilfred Kimaru termed the move as the way forward for farmers to reap big. He regretted that potatoes have been rotting in the farms due to lack of market.

The Nyandarua governor said the county will also set up high-quality processors through co-operatives.

Theunissen said the retail chain supports the employment of local people, especially the youth, who form the largest segment of its workforce. 

Governor Kimemia added: “Through the potato tissue culture project, it will be possible to rapidly multiply any seed variety required by the market. We are using the latest technology to produce quality seeds at our Oljororok seed multiplication unit.”

He noted the old storage plant at Olkalou is almost complete, adding that farmers will be assisted with seed for processing variety during the coming long rain season in the hope that the produce will be in the market by June.

The governor added that his administration is in the process of assisting food processors in the county through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model to expand facilities.

In addition, KFC said it was exploring the possibility of sourcing cheese from dairy players in Nyandarua.

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