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Australian rules cut horticulture exports by 40pc

 Okisegere Ojepat
Fresh Produce Consortium CEO Okisegere Ojepat. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenya is staring at a 40 percent reduction in horticulture exports to Australia after failing to comply with the zero-pest tolerance requirement.

Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) of Kenya said this was mostly due to non-compliance with some of the post-harvest treatment demanded by Australia.

Some exporters have consequently seen permits not renewed by Kenya Health Plant Inspectorate Service (Kephis).

Exporters need to get approval locally before they can be cleared by Australian authorities.

“Our compliance rate as of April was at 48 percent but is supposed to be at below 10 percent because Kephis has been unable to approve some of the post-harvest treatment that Australia had given to us,” said FPC chief executive Ojepat Okisegere.

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He said the renewal of a permit is now based on the compliance to Australian set standards, which several exporters are yet to meet.

Before exports are made, each Kenyan grower presents flowers to Kephis for inspection and phytosanitary certificate.

Recently Liriomyza pest was found in one of the consignments from Kenya, raising the alarm over the country’s compliance. This saw Kephis suspend an export licence of the firm that handled the consignment.

In October, Australia tightened rules on export of Kenyan roses, saying it would only accept the flowers if they comply with the zero-pest rule.

All flowers destined to Australia are now required to be fumigated either at the airport in Nairobi or at the farms unlike in the past where this would be done at the port of entry.

Last month, the European Union enhanced surveillance on beans and vegetables from Kenya to ensure compliance to pests and chemical residue levels. The EU had set a deadline of September 2014 for Kenya to cut the residue chemicals in exports, to comply with the EU’s guidelines, or risk sanctions on exports of cut flowers, fruit and vegetables.

Measures the government took included the ban on the use of two chemicals, on farms, as well as increasing staff to ensure exporters complied with the rules, both on farms and at the point of exit.

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