Public-Private Dialogue for the Horticultural Sector
The European Union (EU)- supported Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP) Kenya organized a half-day consultative meeting which brought together players in the horticulture sector from both the public and private sectors.
Stakeholders in this sector gathered to discuss issues revolving around of food safety, trade, give an overview of the industry and look at emerging issues in the sector.
They also discussed some of the interventions which have been carried out through the MARKUP Kenya program in a bid to enhance food safety and market access for Kenya’s produce locally, regionally and internationally. MARKUP Kenya is implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in partnership with the government and private sector.
The participants were drawn from exporting companies, Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC), Agriculture and Trade Ministries, Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), MARKUP Kenya among others.
Some key issues discussed include traceability system that has been set up, certification and compliance and MARKUP Kenya’s interventions along these areas.
In his presentation, MARKUP Kenya National Project Coordinator Maina Karuiru highlighted several achievements including delivery of Certified Reference Materials to KEBS, and training of 25 laboratory staff (KEBS, KEPHIS, NPHL/MoHealth) trained on ISO17025 (assessor course), LIMS, method validation, traceability of measurement, measurement uncertainty and laboratory management by KENAS (Jan-Feb 2022).
Other achievements include; Bureau Veritas subcontracted to carry out ISO17020 training of inspection bodies (KEBS, KEPHIS, private sector) –scheduled for Nov –Dec 2022; Guide for Aflatoxin Management & Control and SOPs for Aflatoxin Management & Control, linked to various critical control points along the value chain of macadamia, ground nuts and spices completed and adopted by stakeholders; Training of 18 Master Trainers (from AFA/HCD, KEBS, KEPHIS, MoHealth) conducted (April 2022), who will train at the counties.
In a bid to support sector smallholders, cooperatives and enterprises better integrate into export-oriented value chains, MARKUP Kenya has among other things achieved; 246 County extension officers trained on market access requirements ; 1,416 Farmers trained on Global Gap Standards in 9 counties on selected value chains; 36 participants from Exporting SMEs, county extension officers and Ministry of agriculture trained on FSSC 22,000 and HACCP standards; 806 Farmers trained on Group dynamics and good governance training in 9 counties – 3 counties left to train in Nov-Dec 2022; Procedure manual of Mangoes clean planting materials , including marketing strategy and business plans completed; Mangoes Clean planting materials training by KARLO for 54 nursery operators completed in 3 counties Makueni ,Machakos and Embu in May 2022.Clean planting materials trainings for Groundnuts, Macadamia and passion fruit scheduled for Nov-Dec 2022
Additionally, UNIDO has recruited 4 experts who has started providing support requested by 12 exporting SMEs though SMES challenge fund namely ;BRC training and Compliance for 4 companies, Global training for 9 companies and New Product Development for 1 company.
MARKUP Kenya also contracted SEMABOX which produced a 12-episode podcast series on agri-food business development for the youth dubbed Mazao Talks Podcast. So far, overall 12.7 million people interacted in various ways with content created during this project across platforms. This confirms the Mazao Podcast as the 2nd biggest corporate podcast in Kenya, after the NMG x Sportpesa podcast. The podcast was promoted through sponsored posts that created a reach of well over 40,000 Instagram users between the ages of 25 and 40.
Horticulture Sector Facing Challenges
FPEAK CEO Hosea Machuki said the horticulture sector is facing numerous challenges key among them high cost of production and freight.
“In a recent international meeting, a county from Western Africa said they are selling a kilogram of French beans at USD1.5 at the EU, while the cost of freight to the same destination in Kenya is already higher at USD1.8 per kg,” said Machuki
In addition to high cost of farm inputs, producers have to bear a burden of multiple cess payments at counties, making costs to go further higher.
Other challenges highlighted during the meeting include interception notifications/MRLs-on beans, peas, capsicums, chilies, avocado etc., high pest and disease incidences such as False Codling Moth, fruit fly among others.
Kenya is also a net exporter of raw material heightening the cost of production while there is also low investment in infrastructure.
The sector is also adversely battling the effects of climate change on productivity and quality. These effects include drought, floods, increased pest & disease incidences.
Some of the interventions include establishment of a National Traceability System, review of contracts for common user packing facility, compliance to set rules, regulations and strict adherence to market requirements.
The Kenya Standard (KS) 1758 ensures certification of farms and monitoring of residues
“The outcomes of the deliberations will guide the future interventions in the horticulture industry and exporting companies will be informed on actions and some recommendations in the meeting,” said Christine Misiko, MARKUP Kenya Knowledge and Communication expert.