Kenya has introduced 53 new varieties of Irish potatoes that meet the required standards set by international fast food joints as the country moves to cut imports.
The varieties released by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and potato breeders have been improved to meet the standards.
Many international hotel chains and restaurants in the country such as KFC have been importing potatoes to meet the tastes of their French fry customers.
“These restaurants that have set shop in the country have quality standards to adhere to, hence need suitable potato varieties to produce their food.
The released varieties meet some of these quality standards,” says Kephis managing director Esther Kimani.
“The release of new varieties in essence means that these hotels and restaurants do not have to import potato.”
Locally, Tropical Heat Company has complained that though there are plenty of potatoes in the country during harvesting time, most varieties do not meet specifications for making crisps and chips, forcing them to import from Tanzania.
Kephis says the new varieties are resistant to diseases, a move that will help farmers cut cost incurred in controlling diseases.
Potato supply in Kenya is constrained by unavailability of certified seed as only one per cent of seeds used by farmers is certified.