'Consumers in the local market have started demanding quality and safe food. We, therefore, need to build capacity for our farmers so that they are able to produce and compete in both the local and global market'
The government is planning to establish a food safety agency to address consumer demands, an official said on Wednesday.
Crops and Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said his ministry and that of Health were putting in place a food safety agency.
“Most of the focus in the past have been on export but on the local market, we have relied on the department of public health. The complexity of the issues that we deal with in food safety have grown beyond public health. We need a more multi-disciplinary agency to be able to deliver the full mandate,” Boga said.
Boga spoke during the opening of the global Good Agricultural Practices conference on food security at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation headquarters in Loresho, Nairobi.
The PS said organisations like the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services, Agriculture and Food Authority, Pharmacy and Poisons Board, Pest Control Products Board and Directorate of Veterinary Services are all regulatory agencies that ensure whatever is in the market is safe.
Boga said the modern consumer has certain expectations for any products, making food safety key.
“Most of the smallholder farmers in the country grow food for their own consumption so food safety has not been an issue. But in export market, the standards become even tighter. As a community of nations under the WTO, FAO, WHO, there are common standards that have been developed where every product is expected to meet the requirements,” Boga said.
“Consumers in the local market have started demanding quality and safe food. We therefore need to build capacity for our farmers so that they are able to produce and compete in both the local and global market.”
He said the conference is working on capacity building to ensure farmers are able to meet global agreements on how best to grow quality and safe food.
Over 500 industry players in the crops sector dealing with production and export of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and related sub-sectors are taking part in the forum.
The conference has been organised by an international food safety certification body, Global G.A.P. (Good Agricultural Practices) and Rootooba, a local company.
“Small and Medium Scale producers who need to access and maintain these markets must, therefore, comply with GAP requirements at the minimum. In particular, producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, avocado, herbs, macadamia, grains, tubers, coffee and tea who want to improve their farm operations, safety, quality and traceability to claim a market share in the lucrative international markets require GAP,” said Flavio Alzueta, the vice president and chief marketing officer at Global GAP.
edited by peter obuya