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New plan to ensure potato farmers eat slice of KFC cash

Kentucky Fried Chicken, better known as KFC, has now identified farmers to grow the potato variety that they want, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said.

Munya said the Ministry has already come up with a plan on how to grow those particular varieties that KFC requires. This has been made possible thanks to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) who are supporting them to start growing more varieties and ensure they have those that please the palate of those interested in KFC type of chips or french fries.

Munya was speaking during the Fourth Intergovernmental Forum on Agriculture Agriculture in Nairobi on Thursday.

According to Munya, the Ministry of Agriculture has agreed to work together with KFC and have identified the people they want to work with to start rolling out the particular variety they require as well as relevant partners.

“It is also important for people to know that potatoes that are made into chips is only five per cent. The rest are eaten in other ways. But because, of course, of the kind of social status of the people who eat that particular one, it attracted a lot of interest to show that we are in a crisis in the potato sub-sector,” said Munya.

Last week, Wachira Kaguongo, chief executive at National Potato Council, said they agreed in a meeting to have farmers plant the Markies variety to cut overreliance on imports.

Supporting farmers

Munya noted that the real crisis in the potato sub-sector is supporting farmers to grow and deal with post-harvest losses and ensuring they reach the market.

“The post-harvest losses are where the middlemen come to exploit them,” said Munya.

In early January, the KFC franchise in Kenya reported that it had ran out of potatoes, a contradiction in a country where smallholder farmers grow the crop in tonnes but cannot properly access the market.

The US fast food giant announced that after a busy festive season, Kenyan customers would be offered alternative food items like Ugali in place of french fries.

KFC, which operates in Kenya through franchise Kuku Foods East Africa, imports potatoes mainly from Egypt for french fries, which are commonly known as "chips" in the East African nation. KFC, unlike local restaurants, only accepts potatoes that have been peeled, cut to the required and frozen size for processing as chips.

KFC's predicaments in Kenya follow shortly after McDonald’s was forced to temporarily limit portion sizes for its french fries in Japan, citing disruption at the Port of Vancouver. The fast-food chain was forced to charter flights to deliver potatoes and resume normal operations.

In Kenya, KFC said that delays in shipping due to the Covid-19 situation has resulted in a local potato shortage, and although potatoes are easily available in Kenya, the company said it cannot source locally while keeping to its strict quality standards.

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