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Kebs to scale up horticulture export tests


Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) Managing Director Bernard Njiraini. PHOTO | LUCY WANJIRU | NMG

The Kenya National Bureau of Standards (Kebs) will scale up tests on horticulture produce destined for Europe to boost export volumes and retain this lucrative market.

Managing director Bernard Njiraini said the agency would acquire more test equipment amid tightening compliance conditions in the main European Union (EU) market.

“We have the capacity to check mangoes and avocados going to Europe but we need more equipment to help on these checks,” he said yesterday when he received testing equipment worth Sh500million donated by the EU.

Mr Njiraini urged growers seeking to export agricultural produce to the EU to ensure that their produce complies with the market requirement to minimise interception by authorities.

Kenya’s horticulture export to Europe has been facing phytosanitary challenges in the European market, a move that has seen some of the produce restricted from accessing the market.

This comes at a time when Kenya is preparing to resume exports of mangoes to Europe after a self-imposed ban nearly a decade ago on the back of fruit flies, risking a ban from EU.

Last month, Kenya exported five tonnes of mangoes to Italy after putting in place corrective measures, according to Kenya Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) on a pilot basis ahead of the resumption of the European market.

The self-imposed ban saw Kenya rely on a less lucrative Middle East market. However, with the presence of hot water treatment to contain the fruit flies, the lucrative EU market is beckoning for farmers.

Kephis said several hot water treatment plants would be established to tame these pests and fully resume the EU exports and cut overreliance on the Middle East.

“Italy received the consignment that we sent so well and they are even asking for more, this now gives us a window to resume exports to Europe,” said Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui.

Kenya is targeting to export additional mango consignments to Germany and the UK this month.