Kenya and Dutch go paperless in verifying horticultural exports


Packing flowers in cartons for export. Kenya is the world's fourth biggest flower exporter. PHOTO | BBC

Kenya and the Netherlands have implemented electronic certification of horticulture exports to cut on high levels of interceptions, which have seen the country’s produce delay to hit the shelves, making Kenya the first country in Africa to achieve this fete.

The process migrates the country from the paper system of documentation that has been prone to forgery, to a more efficient digital accreditation that is faster and tamper-proof.

The project has been implemented jointly by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) and The Netherlands Food and Consumer Safety Authority.

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Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui said the electronic certification will significantly cut delays in the submission of documents to the importing country, coming as a major boost to the exporters.

“We have had situations when the products arrive in the importing countries but there are no documents for clearance, this means that we cannot be competitive when our goods do not get to the market on time,” said Prof Mutui.

Prof Mutui said the systems have simplified the phytosanitary regulation processes thereby increasing efficiency, improving user experience and reducing operational costs.

“Kenya prides itself on being the first African country to develop and implement the electronic phytosanitary certification system for the electronic exchange of phytosanitary certificates. These systems have for sure enabled Kephis, customers and other partners to stay connected even in the midst of Covid 19 pandemic,” he said.

Horticulture is a key foreign exchange earner and most of the farm produce destined for Europe, especially flowers pass via The Netherlands. Kenya exported goods worth Sh61.6 billion to Dutch, against Sh46.8 billion in imports.

Flowers raked in Sh82.24 billion last year while fruits and vegetables earned Sh9 billion and Sh24 billion respectively.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Kellow Harsama said Kenya’s earnings from horticulture are attributed to measures that the country has put in place to comply with set norms.

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“The rise in exports is attributed to compliance with the market requirements by a majority of the exporters, particularly to the key European Union market,” said Mr Harsama.

The PS said the focus towards digitalisation and investment in the development of innovative technologies has enabled Kenya to compete favourably in the current markets in the world.

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