Following the recent KFC controversy, the Kenyan government has now set aside KE 100m to boost local potato production.
Agriculture CS, Peter Munya, has clarified that the state, through the ministry of agriculture, will be working closely with farmers in three major potato-producing counties –Marakwet, Meru, and Nyandarua to improve the production of potatoes to meet the local demands.
Speaking during a meeting with the council of governors held in Mombasa to discuss the impacts of agricultural reforms and the effects of COVID-19 on agribusiness in the country, the CS stated that the amount will finance the production and distribution of new potato varieties to farmers. The initiative is expected to help farmers produce the right varieties of potatoes needed by the market.
The Ministry of Agriculture has started working on strategies to train farmers to access and utilize quality seeds from KALRO, Kenya Agriculture & Livestock Research Organization. CS Munya further explained that KALRO has produced 20 new potato varieties that are more ideal for French Fries.
In addition to Marakwet, Meru, and Nyandarua, Nakuru and Narok have a huge potential for potato production. However, this potential remains unexploited largely due to the unavailability of the right potato varieties.
The government aims to partner with KALRO and other agencies and private players to support potato farmers. The move will also improve seed multiplication, value addition, processing, post-harvest management, and storage of potatoes in potato-producing counties.
“This is the direction we are taking by collaborating with the private players who are making these potato seeds, we are linking them with farmers and they are supported by counties on how to cultivate the new variety and we finally deal with this KFC issue,” said the CS.
At the moment, Kenyan farmers are facing numerous marketing challenges for their products. According to Mr. Munya, locally-produced potatoes, in addition to being low in quality, are far more expensive than imported potatoes and this affects their competitiveness.
The new initiative is part of the national government’s commitment to improve the agricultural sector’s competitiveness and subsequently lower the importation of potatoes.