Kenya has two months to comply with Europe’s phytosanitary requirements in taming pests on its horticulture produce or have its fresh produce subjected to tighter checks that would make it uncompetitive in the huge market.
A meeting held last week in Brussels, European Union (EU) headquarters, saw Kenya given up to September to address the issue, failure to which the level of sampling of commodities coming from the country will be increased to 25 percent, from the current 10 percent and five percent initially.
Interceptions on Kenya’s horticultural produce have been high lately following the presence of the false codling moth, which is a quarantine pest in Europe.
“We are afraid that we are going to lose the market advantage that we have in Europe if we do not address the issue of these pests in our exports,” said Ojepat Okisegere, chief executive officer, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya.
If the level of sampling is increased to 25 percent, exporters will have to wait longer before their commodity gets to the shelf and as such they will incur an extra cost in meeting the storage charges in the cold room.
“As we wait for our products to be cleared, other countries that have complied with the requirements will have their commodities in the shelves way ahead of us and this is how our crucial market will be weakened,” he said.
Because of this, stakeholders fear that they could lose up to 40 percent of their market if corrective measures are not taken.
Head of Horticulture Directorate Benjamin Tito said the pest poses a serious threat to the country’s main market and that they are moving with speed to sensitise growers. The insect mainly affects flowers and capsicum.
“We shall be talking to farmers on the appropriate methods to use to contain these pests and protect our European market,” said Mr Tito.
Mr Tito said they are advising growers to avoid open field cultivation and instead encourage the use of screening nets to curb the pest.