According to reports, the Kenyan operational outlet of popular American fast food restaurant chain, KFC has refused to patronize local potato farmers despite importation shortage.
Kentucky Fried Chicken, otherwise known as KFC, is the world's second-largest restaurant chain after McDonald's, and specializes in fried chicken and chips. As of December 2019, the restaurant chain is on record to have over 22,621 locations globally in 150 countries.
In Kenya, however, the company has run out of imported potatoes, but sources say they have refused to patronize local farmers. KFC has revealed that it is not interested in substituting locally produced potatoes for foreign ones.
Citing quality assurance protocols, officials of the company say they would rather not serve French fries at their Kenyan outlets rather than patronize local potato farmers in the country.
Critics have, however rubbished the excuse saying that the claims are unfounded and go a long way to show the original intent of the company in Kenya and Africa at large.
Kenya grows approximately 25 000 to 30 000 hectares of potato annually, and there is no denying that patronage from a major fast-food giant like KFC in Kenya will boost the revenue of local farmers in no small way.
KFC in Kenya has experienced huge shortages in the importation of potatoes as a result of the disruptions in the global supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the shortage, KFC's Chief Executive for East Africa, Jacques Theunissen, says the company cannot substitute locally produced potatoes for foreign ones.
"It has to do with delays in shipping lines due to the COVID situation. Ships have been delayed for more than a month now, but we are working hard to restore them as the first containers are arriving in the port tomorrow (today).
"The reason we cannot buy local at the moment is all suppliers need to go through the global QA approval process and we cannot bypass that even if we run out to ensure that our food is safe for consumption by our customers," he told Kenya's Business Daily news outlet.
Besides maize, potatoes are said to be the second most important crop in the East African country. The crop is grown by thousands of small holder farmers and directly employs an estimated 2.5 million people along the value chain. It also contributes significantly to the country's economy.
Many observers are of the opinion that a company like KFC operating in Africa will patronize local farmers as a way of giving back to the African society.
In your opinion, do you agree that government should create laws that mandate foreign companies doing business in Africa to patronize locals as part of their Memorandum of Understanding and inclusion policy?
What are your thoughts?