• Kenya exports 45 per cent of its horticulture produce to the European Union.
• EU to get export link mango, passion fruits and herbs and spice farmers from 12 counties.
Horticulture farmers have a reason to smile thanks to an Sh424 million EU project that will link them to the regional and global market.
The Market Access Upgrade Programme - MARKUP project will benefit small and medium enterprises who specialise in mangoes, passion fruit, avocado, tea, coffee, horticulture, herbs and spices, tea and nuts in 12 counties.
The focus Counties include Bumgoma, Busia, Homabay, Siaya, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gishu, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Makueini, Machakos, Kajiado and Embu.
Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya urged farmers to ensure they meet the required food safety standards so that they can compete in the global market.
He said the four-year (2018-2022) project commissioned in 2018 will focus on building the farmers capacity to use good agricultural practices that guarantee safety and quality of their produces.
“This project will help our farmers access markets, enhance compliance to food safety regulations, there will be increased horticultural exports, and improve the competitiveness of Kenya’s animal and plant-based products,” Munya said.
The project was launched on Monday at a Nairobi hotel.
Simon Mordue, the EU ambassador to Kenya said the project is aimed at creating sustainable market linkages between the EU and the EAC countries.
“We aim at developing agricultural value chains that benefit the poor and encourage agro-industries to contribute to job creation and inclusive development in Kenya and the region,” said Mordue.
Regina Mungai a farmer from Gilgil in Nakuru County grows herbs including mint and rosemary among others, and her biggest challenge is accessing market for her produce.
“If I get somebody to direct me to the international market, I will be able to do business because I am almost getting my certificate from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service,” said Mungai.
Mordue said small scale farmers in Kenya will be supported to produce horticultural products that meet global standards and easily gain access to the EU market.
The Euros 3.7 million project will be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and will be anchored within the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives.
It will be rolled out for 4 years is part of a partnership between the European Union and the East African Community (EAC) targeting SMEs in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda in the agricultural sector.
Currently, Kenya horticulture export destination is mainly the European Union taking about 45 per cent of the country’s exports.
Bernard Njiraini, managing director, Kenya Bureau of Standards said the standards body had embarked on various initiatives to ensure conformity to local and international standards was observed as a way of tackling technical trade barriers in the agricultural sectors.
“We are reviewing and developing national and regional standards, strengthening the conformity assessment services to ensure that all the agricultural exports are not only safe for human consumption but also meet the quality requirements for both the export and domestic markets,” said Njiraini.