Boost as South Korea to buy Kenya’s bananas, broccoli

A trader arranges green bananas at Nakuru’s Wakulima Market, Nakuru Town. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenyan farmers and horticulture exporters dealing in green bananas and broccoli can now sell their produce to South Korea.

Seoul's Animal and Quarantine Agency of the Republic of Korea has made an announcement giving Kenya's produce a clean bill of health.

“The purpose of this announcement is to bring this information to your attention and request your assistance in contacting farmers and exporters of the above products so that they can advantage of this opportunity,” said Dr Chris Kiptoo, principal secretary State Department of Trade in a media statement issued two weeks ago.

South Korea imports 70 percent of its food and in 2017, bananas were the most imported product in the country recording 834,000 tonnes, worth $1.24 billion, according to statistics released in September this year by the South Korea Customs Service.

The largest fruit exporter to South Korea, accounting for 38.3 percent of the total fruit imports, was the United States of America.

It was followed by the Philippines with 28.6 percent, of fruits exports, Chile accounted for 11.6 percent and New Zealand with 5.1 percent.

In Kenya, areas which produce green bananas include Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Muranga, Nyeri, Kericho and Kirinyaga.

The South Korea market now offers farmers an opportunity to improve their products to meet international standards.

“It is an encouraging move that will allow farmers access new markets and especially given that we produce some the best green and ripe bananas globally,” said Milton Ongeri, chairman of Kilimo Bora Public Private Partnership

“Most of the farmers in Nyamira County sell locally to areas such as Nakuru, Mombasa and Kisumu but out of 410 farmers in our group, I am certain that 100 of them are in large-scale banana production and can meet the new international demand.”

Kilimo Bora Public-Private Partnerships is a WhatsApp group comprising farmers, agronomists, buyers and sellers of agriculture produce In Nyamira County. The group connects farmers to local markets and traders.

Mr Ongeri notes that most of the farmers do not meet international standards due to the quality of their produce.

“Some of the problems that farmers face are low production levels as well as low quality crops that have affected market demands. This is due to pest infestation and attck by diseases but we are taking measures to ensure that the crops are healthy,” said Ongeri.

Also, following the South Korea announcement, the group has taken the initiative of mentoring and educating their members so that they can better understand the certifications required in order to trade in the international markets.

To produce for the international market, particular horticultural practices must be followed. For starters there are some documents exporters of any produce must have.

These include an export license from the Horticultural Crops Development Authority HCDA, a GlobalGAP certification and a Pphytosanitary and conformity certificates from the Kenya Plant health inspectorate Service ( Kephis) that is handed as a confirmation that all the plant and plant products exported are in accordance with the requirement of the importing country.

For broccoli exportation, the Kenya Horticulture Exporters (KHE) is one of the biggest exporters of the crop to international markets.

The organisation transports at least 22 tonnes a day of fresh produce from raspberries to tender stem broccoli through IAG Cargo, the cargo handling division of the International Airlines Group and annually it exports 7500 tonnes of perishables via IAG Cargo.

Broccoli producing areas in Kenya areas include Nairobi, Laikipia, Kiambu, Muranga, Makueni and part of Rift Valley. It is best grown in fertile areas with a lot of sunlight and acidic soils.

- African Laughter

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