Fresh produce farmers in Kenya intending to export are now getting information on what is required of them by receiving countries, thanks to briefing programmes initiated by county governments in conjunction with the Kenya Plant Health Inspection Unit (KEPHIS).
This initiative comes on the backdrop of a report by FAO dubbed ‘challenges and opportunities to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers’, which cited lack of information on export market as major barrier that hinders smallholder farmers from accessing this rich market.
The plant health inspection body for instance recently held a farmers’ field day and sensitization forum to inform, and educate mango farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet County on the importance of using the fruit fly trap to eradicate the mango fruit fly, thereby enhancing market access to the key European Union (EU). The event which was attended by the area governor Eng. Alex Tolgos also saw the launch of fruit fly trap, saving local mango farmers from perennial losses brought about by the pest. Mangoes are grown in at least 518 hectares in the county, 24,285 tonnes per year valued at almost Sh400m.
Similar programs have been conducted in Kirinyaga County where local farmers were taken through French beans health and quality standard requirements for various importing blocks. Such information act as a marking tool for farmers to ensure that their produce meets all required standards set by export market like maturity, toxicity and required variety.
According to Josiah Syanda, Officer In-Charge of Plant Inspection Unit at KEPHIS, they are ready to take through either individual farmers or county governments through various regulations set by various importers on any given fresh produce.
Four years ago, KEPHIS launched Electronic Certification System (ECS), a digital system that allow fresh produce exporters to electronically key in details of their goods for online clearance and certification by relevant government agencies. The information keyed in is used across multiple clearing agencies, hence efficiency.
The ECS replaced the tedious manual process where the farmers were forced to repeatedly document details of their goods across multiple agencies. The system which can only be accessed by registered KEPHIS exporters by logging in using their respective credentials has also most information about export regulations for various countries across the globe. A registered fresh produce exporting company is required to register with KEPHIS in order to obtain ECS account.