The European Union (EU) through Market Access Program Kenya (MARKUP) has donated laboratory testing materials to Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), aimed at enhancing food safety and access to premium markets locally, regionally and abroad.

The Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) valued at Sh3 million were handed over by European Union Manager for Finance and Private Sector Development in Kenya, Adolfo Cires during a brief ceremony at KEPHIS Headquarters in Nairobi.

Cires said The CRMs would enhance compliance Global Good Agricultural Practice (Global GAP) system on the pesticide residue levels and meet the EU regulations.

He observed that EU had been supporting food systems and phyto-sanitary services for decades in efforts to complying with export requirements to the European Union produce markets.

Cires who was accompanied by KEPHIS Managing Director, Theophilus Mutui and National Project Coordinator United Nations Industrial Oganisation (UNIDO) MARKUP Project, Maina Karuiru said KEPHIS one of EU’s long time partners on compliance requirements on issues of food safety and international trade.

“This donation is aimed at increasing trade between Kenya and different nations in EU which is also timely because it comes a few months after an Economic Partnership Agreement was signed between Kenya and the EU to increase exports,” he said.

Cires said MARKUP was supporting production and export of different value chains namely mangos, macadamia, groundnuts, fruits and a variety of herbs and spices.

KEPHIS MD, Mutui conceded that Kenya has been facing the challenge of interceptions of its horticultural produce to Europe due to high amounts of chemical residue that surpass the maximum pesticide levels limit.

“Due to this challenge KEPHIS partnered with MARKUP which has helped in conducting ISO17025 trainings that governs analysis in the laboratories to make sure that the results obtained from its laboratories are credible and accurate,” he said

The MD who confirmed that CRMs are some of the requirements for phyto-sanitary testing laboratories observed that the training had enhanced competency of KEPHIS analysts and services to Kenyans had improved.

“KEPHIS has a Pilot monitoring program that MARKUP has been supporting in the last financial year which is very important in every food control system because they give an overview of the performance of produce which are either being consumed locally or exported,” he said.

Mutui added that KEPHIS worked with the program to come up with a pesticide monitoring program where it randomly collects produce samples which were tested at KEPHIS analytical chemistry laboratories for EU compliance requirement testing.

“It is important to note that the service has analytical chemistry lab which is accredited by EU for analysis of pesticides residue for the European markets as well as heavy metals in fish” he said.

He said the Certified Reference Materials are used as standards in the analysis with known values which are used to compare with whatever is analyzed and give accurate results

The MD said Farmers will get effective service through a one test which is accepted globally of the inbuilt standards of the CRMS.

“Normally have interceptions due to various reasons such as harmful micro-organisms such as like fruit flies, high chemical residues and wrong documentations but the level is very low compared to yester-years,” he said

 Karuiru said MARKUP was supporting market access for various value chains in 12 counties among them Machakos, Makueni, Kirinyaga, Elgeyo Marakwet and Bungoma among others

He said CRMS are very expensive materials used in laboratories to improve accuracy, create consumer confidence and increase market access

Karuiru said the better testing technologies and education of Global GAP meant that Kenya was going to export more and earn better revenues for farmers.

Said he, “Because of a bigger market, farmers will grow, produce and sell more, increase their revenues and in turn change the dynamics for their living standards in the rural areas,”.

He noted that the CRMs were going to serve a wider base more than KEPHIS because the service (KEPHIS) is a national lab that serves the Kenyan interest as well as the region.

The accuracy of the test results means that even the East African Community is going to experience improvements in terms of market access.

Thanked the EU for funding the MARKUP Project and KEPHIS for being receptive and supportive to their projects.

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