UK assures Kenya on horticulture

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James Cleverly Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom during an interview on December 8, 2022. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NMG

UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has assured horticulture farmers in the country that London will ensure that the volume of Kenyan agriculture exports to Britain does not fall in the wake of demands for extra certification on produce exported to Europe.

The demand for extra certification follows Kenya’s lifting of the ban on genetically modified crops (GMO).

Mr Cleverly said the UK was following up on the matter closely and will be issuing a guideline on how it will make sure that Kenyan products stay on British shelves.

He noted that finding ways to increase trade between Kenya and the UK remains a priority for both governments.

“Decisions that are made by the Kenyan government are things that we have an interest in and we will always talk closely with the government about how we can not only protect the current levels of trade but also how to increase levels of trade,” he said.

He said the two countries enjoy a strong trading relationship over the years that the UK is keen on maintaining.

“In the supermarkets in the UK there are lots of Kenyan products that we really value,” he said.

The Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Okisegere Ojepat last week raised concerns that European buyers of Kenyan horticultural produce are now asking for proof as to whether the produce is genetically modified.

European buyers are insisting on produce that has no trace of GMOs. Kenya’s agricultural exports to Europe include vegetables, fruits and cut flowers.

“We are being asked to confirm whether what we are selling to our European customers is GMO or non-GMO, and are required to show proof through additional certification,” said Mr Ojepat.

The cabinet lifted the ban on GMO products in October to allow the importation and growth of modified food products in the country.

The government explained that the move will address the constant challenge of food insecurity following the adverse effects of drought in the region.

The move has attracted criticism and support in equal measure with critics including former Prime Minister Raila Odinga saying the reason used for their re-introduction is a cruel justification that tramples on Kenyans' rights at the expense of foreign commercial interests.

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