Market News

Afia Juice maker starts potato seed production

kevian

Kevian chairman Kimani Rugendo. The firm is hoping to meet the demand by multinational fast food chains. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Juice maker Kevian Limited has expanded its business to potato farming after the company entered into a partnership with Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) for production of quality tubers to cut imports of the produce used for making French fries.
  • Kalro has licensed the Thika-based firm to commercialise five of its high-yielding potato seed varieties on a 15-year contract to boost production of the right variety required by multinational franchises, who have relied on imports to meet their customer needs.
  • The partnership, said Kalro director-general Eliud Kireger, will benefit 50,000 farmers in potato growing regions and help meet the current demand of high-quality potato crop in the country.

Juice maker Kevian Limited has expanded its business to potato farming after the company entered into a partnership with Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) for production of quality tubers to cut imports of the produce used for making French fries.

Kalro has licensed the Thika-based firm to commercialise five of its high-yielding potato seed varieties on a 15-year contract to boost production of the right variety required by multinational franchises, who have relied on imports to meet their customer needs.

The partnership, said Kalro director-general Eliud Kireger, will benefit 50,000 farmers in potato growing regions and help meet the current demand of high-quality potato crop in the country.

“The poor quality of potatoes that we have in the country results from planting and recycling of low quality seed by farmers,” said Dr Kireger.

The partnership will see Kevian — the makers of Afia and Pick N Peel juices — pay Kalro royalties at a rate of 2.5 percent of their total annual sales from the potatoes.

Kevian will distribute the improved potato seeds to farmers and later purchase the harvest for processing.

“We will offer the best price possible in the market, but farmers would be free to sell their produce elsewhere if they want,” said Kimani Rugendo, the chairman of Kevian.

Kenya has been relying on imports of certified tubers to meet the growing demand for clean seeds for potato farmers with the view to boosting production of the country’s second most popular staple food.

The country’s potato seed demand stands at 30,000 tonnes annually but the country only produces 6,700 tonnes with most farmers recycling previous crop to use as seed, a move that has been blamed for the shortage that the country faces.

Kenya produces about two million tonnes of potatoes annually even though the country has potential of yielding up to eight million tonnes.