Kenya’s horticulture sector has signed a pact with an American organisation to support smallholder farmers to conform to the required international stands and minimise losses incurred through rejection of produce in the world market.
Through the Trade of Agriculture Safely and Efficiently project, Land O’Lakes Venture37 will support farmers affiliated with Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya to meet sanitary and phytosanitary standards through capacity building.
The non-profit organisation is affiliated with American agribusiness firm Land O’Lakes.
Kenya has over the years been grappling with an interception of fresh produce by the European authorities who are very sensitive on quality and standards, which in some occasions has seen local produce banned from accessing that market.
Principal Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Harry Kimtai said the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will go a long way in safeguarding farmers' earnings by cutting the number of consignments that are confiscated.
“The signing of this agreement comes as a major boost to farmers as they will get an opportunity to learn proper handling of their produce to minimise losses that they incur when their commodities are rejected having exceeded the required chemical levels or when they contain harmful pests,” said Mr Kimtai.
Border interceptions of harmful organisms have been reported in Europe and other international markets where Kenya exports most of its produce.
This has seen Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service, the regulatory authority, implement stringent inspection and certification requirements that several smallholder producers are not able to comply with.
“At the heart of the MoU are joint efforts by the government and private sector horticulture apex bodies to build capacity of smallholder horticulture farmers to adopt good agricultural practices,” said Martha Byanyima, the Chief of Party at Land O’Lakes Venture37.
Ms Byanyima said: “Data collected will be shared with regulatory agencies and could be used to design and implement risk-based inspection regimes, with cost-saving benefits.”