Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs Conference Kicks Off in Nairobi
The Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs (FV&H) conference kicked off today bringing together stakeholders from the sectors, to address among other issues, the challenges and opportunities. The conference is an initiative of European Union (EU)-supported Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP) Kenya, in partnership with various stakeholders from both the private and public sector.
This year’s FV&H conference theme is ‘Enhancing Productivity, Quality, Food Safety and Market Access for Fruits, Vegetables and Herbs’. In tandem with MARKUP Kenya’s objective, the conference also aims at promoting competitiveness and market access for Kenya’s produce locally, regionally and internationally.
Participants are drawn from various sectors including exporters, domestic consolidators, researchers, industry professionals, scientists, government agencies, development partners, farmers among others.
The two-day event was officially opened by Jane Wambugu, the Deputy Director of Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Production. Jane, who doubles up as the Head of Marketing and Agriculture Advisory Services hailed the event’s organisers who include UNIDO-MARKUP Kenya, FPEAK, FPC Kenya, KEBS, KEPHIS, HCD/AFA, PCPB, UON, SOCCA and JKUAT.
“There are more than 150,000 small scale farmers participating in various value chains for export market, with large scale farmers-small scale linkages as a driving force as well as marketing strength,” said Jane, while reading a speech on behalf of Hon Franklin Mithika Linturi, CS, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.
She noted that MARKUP Kenya had identified critical challenges in the horticulture sector, among them insufficient risk-based approach to food safety control and management, weak inspection systems and weak ‘farm to fork’ traceability system. Other challenges include poorly sustained provision of clean planting materials, high cost of inputs, pests, climate change and its effects and over reliance on chemical for pest control.
EU Kenya Delegation Programme Manager Stephen Wathome thanked the event’s organisers and partners saying opportunities for exhibitions and one –to-one interactions of fruits, vegetables and herbs is both crucial and welcome. “Without doubt, it is from such a forum that various players get informed and enlightened as they engage along the farm to fork chain,” he added
EU Chief Technical Advisor for MARKUP Kenya Stefano Sedola said the program has been working towards increasing market access and enhancing food safety for the selected value chains adding that the conference is among many activities geared towards this quest. Implemented in 12 counties across the country, MARKUP Kenya reaches to farmers in the grass roots as well as relevant institutions at national level. With only five percent of produce selling in the export market, Sedola noted there are opportunities to explore more markets and increase exports.
Challenges along the value chains have affected farmers thus reducing income which they would spend on improving their livelihoods. “The outbreak of Covid-19, unreliable and inaccurate horticulture industry data, tariff and non-tarriff barriers, increased freight charges among others have made Kenya’s horticulture value chains uncompetitive,” said Sedola
Stakeholders across the entire supply chain hope to come up with lasting solutions to these challenges which will provide a platform for Kenya to realize its potential in the production and marketing of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs.