KEPHIS Headquarters, Nairobi – National Plant Protection Organizations from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, experts of fruits and vegetables international standards, horticulture exporters and representatives from private firms are at KEPHIS Headquarters to discuss market standards, export and import requirements, food safety, traceability and emerging issues under the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables(FFV)schemes.
The workshop, under the auspices of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), seeks to train the participants on the application of quality standards on fruits and vegetables, the standards required to exports the horticultural produce and the standards used to determine quality.
In 2017 for instance, Kenya’s fresh produce to the EU was intercepted 29 times due to harmful organisms in a crackdown that makes it difficult for Kenya to be removed from the European Union’s quality watch list.
The EU has placed Kenya on the radar as one of the countries with 10 per cent increased Maximum Residual Levels (MRLs), which are the set legal levels of concentration of pesticide residues in or on food.
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Dr. Dorian Lafond, an international standards expert from the USA showing participants of the ongoing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Workshop how to inspect chilies. Participants are drawn from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. Photo: kephis.org
Speaking when he officially opened the forum, the General Manager Phytosanitary Services Dr. Isaac Macharia noted that KEPHIS was keen on the quality of fresh fruits and vegetables that are exported to the key market of the European Union(EU).
Moreover, the Organization was a member of the OECD and was part of several schemes of the OECD that is the seed schemes, forest seed schemes, the fresh fruits and vegetable schemes. Also, Kenya was in the Technical Working Group that discusses standards. Noting that the workshop was being held for the 5th time, the GM mentioned that KEPHIS focuses on food nutrition and security in FFV as they form the main part of export and local market. He also noted that, “of importance is affordable food that is safe for consumption and high quality produce to facilitate trade,” he stated.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation noted that nutrition and food security, which form part of the Government’s Big four agenda includes fruits and vegetables.
“As a ministry we will achieve food security if the food is safe,” he said.
He also emphasized that the country has a system of traceability which enables regulatory agencies, among others, to check on the process of producing food from the farm to export.
In addition, representatives from different countries shared experiences and challenges, appreciating the rules and regulations put in place by the different countries and looking forward to harmonizing these policies.
Kenya earns approximately Sh100bn annually from the sale of flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs whose entry into export markets are largely determined by adherence to export quality standards.