The Nation (Nairobi)

9 February 2012

Kenya: Horticulture Exporters Get Tougher Rules

Horticulture exporters must now identify farms where they source their fresh produce from or risk losing their licences, as the industry regulator tightens the noose in a bid to comply with European Union standards.

The new measures by the Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) will also make it compulsory for brokers and middlemen to register with one exporter.

"These measures have become necessary to address standards compliance and traceability. No export licenses or export certificates will be issued to firms that have not submitted this data," HCDA said in a press notice.

Information on production standards will also be made to the authority within the next three months.

This is a combined effort with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya.

The regulators have noted a breakdown in the horticultural value chain, as exporters and farmers breach supply contracts.

"Middlemen are buying from multiple farms despite existing export supply contracts. This is making it very difficult to trace the origin of products," Kephis director, Dr James Onsando, told the Nation on phone Thursday.

Traceability of food crops makes it easier for quality gatekeepers to ensure that horticultural exports meet health, safety and ecological standards.

One of Kenya's key markets, the European Union (EU), has been threatened by growing unease over unsafe levels of pesticides and microorganisms in crops.

Last year, fresh produce exports worth Sh20 billion were denied entry into the EU after unsafe residue of Dimethoate were detected. This led the Kenyan government to ban the use of the product.

"Consumers in our key markets are very concerned with what they eat. We must comply if we want to retain the markets," said Dr Onsando.

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