More potatoes are needed in the Highlands
Locally grown potatoes are being purchased in tons for the brand-new KUK chips (Frozen Frenh Fries) factory in the Southern Highlands province.
The factory has begun processing locally grown potatoes into frozen French fries, as part of an ambitious import substitution plan to provide a market for thousands of local farmers, cut the price of frozen foods and save valuable foreign currency.
The Highlands KUK chips is a 50:50 partnership between the Southern Highlands Provincial Government (SHPG) and the Agri-business developer Innovative Agro Industry (IAI).
With a market now created, Innovative Agro Industry as developer and operator of the factory is working with the SHP Provincial Government and Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA) to expand potato growing in the Highlands to produce consistent quality supply to meet the demand.
Ilan Weiss, Chairman and Executive Director of IAI said: “The local verities E2 and Sequoia are most suitable for KUK Chips production. The factory requires five (5) full containers of raw potatoes each week.
“These will be washed, peeled, cut, individually frozen and packed to be distributed all over the country – it is a 100% PNG made product,” he said.
Since October 2019, the company has been operating a buying point in the Hagen Market, buying potatoes directly from local farmers.
“We only buy potatoes that are suitable in size and quality. We are buying almost four tons daily at the Hagen buying point. We also buy in Enga through our farm in Sirunki and directly at the factory in Pangia. It’s a lot but not enough.
“We opened this buying point so farmers have an easier access to market. Not all farmers can reach Pangia where the factory is located, some find it easier to arrive in Mt Hagen, so we opened a buying point there,” Mr Weiss said.
The KUK chips are sold to retailers and small shops and kai bars across the country, and to other institutional buyers including caterers, hotels and restaurants.