• Excess use of pesticides in produce and pests have remained a major challenge in trade for horticultural products for both domestic and international markets.
• Kenyan Standard dubbed KS 1758: 2015 & KS 1758: 2016 will help address food safety and traceability along the agriculture value chain for fresh produce.
The government has launched standards that will ensure the food safety and traceability of horticulture produce.
Agriculture and Livestock Development CS Mithika Linturi has said that sanitary and phytosanitary issues and excess use of pesticides in produce and pests have remained a major challenge in trade for horticultural products for both domestic and international markets.
He said the last two years have been challenging due to Covid-19 and the consequent containment measures both domestically and internationally occasioning reduced market demand, and high cost of freight.
“It is in the wake of these challenges that the Ministry through the Horticultural Crops Directorate, Kenya Bureau of Standards, the horticulture industry, and other stakeholders recently established a Kenyan Standard dubbed KS 1758: 2015 & KS 1758: 2016. These are aimed at addressing food safety and traceability along the agriculture value chain for fresh produce,” said Linturi.
The CS spoke on Monday during a meeting with the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya.
“KS 1758 is a Code of Practice for the Horticulture Industry that is divided into two parts, Part one for Floriculture and Ornamentals and Part two for Fruits and Vegetables that was developed with reference to International and Regional Private Voluntary Standards and Government Regulations,” he said.
The CS said there are programs that have been rolled out from which producers, farmers, supermarkets, groceries, county markets, consolidators, packhouses and exporters will benefit through knowledge transfer and assistance in the implementation of KS 1758 Standard.
“This will enhance the quality and safety of our products hence leading to increased trade in the domestic and international markets,” said Linturi.
Data from the Horticultural Crops Directorate shows that between January to November 2021, exports for horticulture products rose from Sh136.7 billion in 2020 to Sh145.4 billion in 2021. This represented a six per cent increase.
This was attributed to increased volumes despite the average export prices being low compared to those achieved in 2020.
Linturi pointed out quality issues that should be a concern to Kenyans.
“Kenya successfully exported the first hot water-treated mango consignment to Italy after a seven-year self-ban, and it was found to be compliant in both phytosanitary and quality aspects,” he said.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Agriculture and Food Authority AFA-Horticultural Crops Directorate, Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Accreditation Services are working to ensure compliance with Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues, especially in the standard KS 1758.
“I commend Bureau Veritas on their certification of nine individual producers and one group of farmers this year to the KS1758. We call upon more farmers and stakeholders to embrace the KS 1758 Standard,” he said.