Kenya to adopt paperless clearing system in fresh produce market, bringing efficiency and foreign currency faster

Kenya is currently piloting paperless fresh produce export transactions with the Netherlands, making it the only country in Africa and among nine in the World to use such a system. This move is expected to increase efficiency and help cut operation costs at a time when the country is struggling to seal a wide trade deficit that has sent its economy into jeopardy.

This initiative, which is championed nationally by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), and Globally by the International Plant Protection Convention, will see virtual clearance of fresh produce exports and imports, easing clearing pressure for highly perishable goods. With this technique, foreign governments will pre-clear exported fresh produce as soon as the Kenya government gives it the clear.

Upon inspection, KEPHIS issues a plant health certificate (a Phytosanitary certificate) to be used as the plant passport to the country of import. The certificate is an assurance to the importing country that indeed, good being brought in from Kenya has met the required import conditions.

KEPHIS issues more than 250,000 certificates annually. The process of printing, verification and other manual processes are  tedious, time consuming and expensive. KEPHIS, therefore, initiated the ePhyto system as a way of increasing efficiency as well as reducing costs in service delivery.

Syanda hailed  the planned paperless system saying that through it, goods will be cleared in advance hence smooth operations in the time conscious fresh produce export and import market. "Paperless systems are not only efficient but also cost effective, and green,’’ he said.

This initiative comes hot on heels of a recent report by FAO that shows that close to 37 per cent of vegetables and fruits go bad before reaching the market in Africa, Latin America and Caribbean due to poor logistic chain made worse by bureaucratic clearing agencies.

The report recommended for swift logistics and cargo clearing techniques to ensure fresh produce reach the market much faster to shield farmers from losses.