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    The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) which assists in the production and certification of quality goods and products among other mandates has reduced certification duration for producing various goods and products from77days to 57 days allowing farmers a shorter waiting period in getting licenses.

    It will encourage farmers interested in adding value to their crops to reach more consumers and make more income.

    “The bureau would take more than two months to oversee and permit production of various goods and products but this has reduced to less than two month for interested and keen producers,” said Thomas Asoo, KEBS’ quality assurance officer.

    Production and certification process:

    Food products for example are standardized to ensure their safety for use by humans taking care of areas such as nutritional labelling, hygiene, food addictive and more. This gives consumers the guarantee that food they are consuming meets the high standards of safety and quality.

    RELATED STORY: Certification group gives farmers incentive to grow more

    The standardization is also a marketing tool, in the East Africa region and internationally as the products are considered safe. Food products have 21,500 international standards which cover areas such as, food safety management, microbiology, fisheries and aquaculture, essential oils and starch and its by-products.

    In Kenya, before applying for product certification by KEBS, the individual, group or company must be a registered enterprise. The certificate of registration which must indicate the annual turnover of the enterprise or an estimation of the turnover in case of first-timers in food production for example, is sent to KEBS for verification.

    “Any enterprise interested to start production of goods or food products must specify to the bureau what such an enterprise is worth yearly before proceeding to the next level of certification,” said Asoo.

    RELATED STORY: Organic food certification standards Uganda

    Applicants are then advised to visit KEBS’ website International Organization for Standardization (IOS) store section to choose and buy International Standards, guidelines, collections and checklists. The charges are different depending on the standard of choice.

    “In case they do not understand the standards there are also designed publications to help understand how standards work and how to apply them, many of which can be downloaded free.”

    “When this is over our officers visits the production site to investigate the hygiene of the site, quality of the raw materials and pick samples of the end product for tests in our labs.”

    RELATED STORY: Star organic farmer championing toxic-free food production

    Testing takes within 21-28 days upon which production permit is issued to the applicant if their products qualifies. If the products fail to meet the standard, the whole process is repeated which may take another more time.

    Getting permission to engage in production of a product is very important and mandatory as those who go against it can be fined, jailed or have their products destroyed.

    “Any individual, group or company found processing and producing substandard goods or products against the law can be fined up to Sh2m, jailed or have their products destroyed and their business closed,” said Asoo adding that only fresh produce do not need KEBS’ permit to be sold.





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    The recent report by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) last week warns of climate change that is set to put millions of people in a vicious cycle of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty with the number of undernourished people increasing by 815M of people going hungry every day over a span of a decade.

    According to the report, the acute climate change is caused by emissions from agricultural sector which is set to increase in future that unless the world adopts sustainable, climate-smart ways of producing, transporting, processing and consuming food,people especially in Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States are "particularly vulnerable" to this change.

    RELATED STORY: East Africa’s dilemma in feeding billions as climate change crisis looms

    In Kenya alone, the people most vulnerable to food insecurity live in urban informal settlements and in the arid and semi-arid regions that make up 80 percent of the country’s land area. A quarter of the population lives in these regions, which suffer from poverty according to World Food Programme.

    Droughts and unpredictable rain patterns exacerbate the situation, and 47 percent of the country’s overall population lives below the poverty line.

    "Climate change puts millions of people in a vicious cycle of food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty. Yet, we must confront the harsh reality: we are not doing enough to deal with this immense threat," said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva during United Nations Climate Change conference, COP 23.

    RELATED STORY: Eating less meat reduces climate change, study

    Noting that we should "not be discouraged by the challenges ahead," the FAO Director-General stressed that achieving Zero Hunger by 2030 is still possible. "Agriculture is where the fight against hunger and climate change come together to unlock solutions."

    "It is not enough to only transform the way we produce food. Climate change mitigation and adaptation must be integrated into the entire food system: from production to transportation, from processing to food consumption, and in both rural and urban areas," Graziano da Silva said.

    This spike is due mainly to conflict and economic downturns, but also the impact of climate change, particularly prolonged droughts in Africa. And estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show that climate change might increase the risk of hunger and malnutrition by up to 20 percent by 2050.

    RELATED STORY: Green revolution feeds continent, tames climate change

    Graziano da Silva pointed to the fundamental role of food systems and agriculture which are heavily affected by climate change, but at the same time are also major drivers of climate change.

    Adopting climate-smart agricultural practices

    At least one fifth of total greenhouse gas emission can be attributed to the agriculture sectors, Graziano da Silva noted.

    Much more needs to be done to reduce these emissions and to simultaneously improve yields and build resilience, the FAO Director-General said. This means adopting approaches such as agroecology and sustainable, climate-smart intensification, among others.

    "We cannot expect that smallholders, family farmers and pastoralists ...can tackle these challenges on their own," and they will need national and international support, he added.

    RELATED STORY: Arid land farmers invest in timely planting to fight climate change

    "Reducing deforestation; restoring degraded lands and forests; eliminating food loss and waste; enhancing soil carbon sequestration; low-carbon livestock - these are only a few known solutions to address hunger, poverty and sustainability at the same time," Graziano da Silva explained.

    He noted in particular, that while livestock emits more greenhouse gas than other food sources, "low carbon livestock is possible," - for example, FAO estimates that readily available improved husbandry practices can reduce emissions by 20 to 30 percent.

    RELATED STORY: OPINION: Ecological farming is key to food security, climate change

    FAO's work includes supporting countries in sustainably improving their agricultural sectors; in adapting and building resilience, and in mitigating global warming through agriculture. It also assists countries monitor their Nationally Determined Contributions in terms of climate change and delivers the technical and financial support needed to turn these commitments into reality.


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