The National Task Force on Horticulture (NTH) provides a platform for addressing challenges that are multi-sectoral in nature. During the national taskforce on horticulture meeting of 25th November 2011 a number of presentations were made by key taskforce members from Horticulture Crops Development Authority (HCDA), Kenya Flower Council (KFC), Export Promotion Council (EPC), Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Program (KHCP) and Ministry of Agriculture. The presentations dwelt on aspects of growth through promotion of nuts; development of irrigated agriculture; compliance to standards and code of practice; export market development and promotion. Input into the original strategy document by NTH members has made it richer in content and scope.
GOAL OF THIS STRATEGY
To contribute to the 10 % annual economic growth as required by the Vision 2030; this would ensure at least Kshs. 20 billion valued annual growth is achieved through targeted strategies.
Below is one of the major objectives
1) Compliance with standards
Market standards can be divided into the following categories:
- Phytosanitary, food safety (linked mainly to chemical and microbial) plus aesthetic standards (linked to fruits and vegetables conformity checks.
- Government standards for specific products e.g. KEBS developed standards for example KS1758 which is a basic standard and effort being put to incorporate it into the national standards mechanism.
- Government legislation on quality many aspects of life e.g. on air, water, noise, soil etc for example by NEMA, DOHSS.
- Private standards which include but not limited to the following:
ü Market driven standards e.g. by European Countries such as MPS, Fair Trade, FFP, Tesco Nurture, GlobalG.A.P.
ü Producer driven standards e.g. KFC Code of practice- Self-regulation.
ü International standards e.g. ISO standards prepared by International standardization Organization for example ISO 22000 for Food safety management systems which also includes HACCP; Codex Alimentarius.
These standards play a significant part in facilitating trade thereby ensuring market sales are high. However, there are significant challenges in Kenya associated with the low application of the above standards highlighted below:
- Cases of interception at the international level are common due to documentation, excessive pesticide use (exceeded MRLs), quarantine pests (liriomyza, Spodoptera and Thrips) and micro-organisms like Shigella as a result of poor application of Phytosanitary & food safety standards.
- In the flower industry, KS 1758 is implemented through the KFC-KEBS agreement by KFC members. It is however not very clear whether these standards are applicable to the destination markets and Kenya.
- Failure to comply with environmental, labour and health & safety standards by some farms in Kenya affect the reputation of the horticulture industry e.g. Lake Naivasha. This includes smallholder and large farms. The current situation does not provide a level playing field where a few comply and the rest who do not comply create a major problem with the image of Kenyan as a whole.
- There are far too many private standards being applied in Kenya which make it become like trade barrier and creates audit fatigue among the farmers. The application is also expensive hence the need to harmonize their application through a national compliance mechanism. Failure to comply with market standards closes out access to the markets.
The above challenges affect Kenya’s competiveness of the horticulture industry significantly in several ways which include, but not limited to the following;
- Interceptions that come at a very high cost and therefore the need to be prevented.
- The government and private sector spend a lot of resources to fight negative profiling associated with environmental conservation, labor, hygiene, health and safety and negative reports from civil society.
All the challenges in compliance should be addressed through formulation, preparation and implementation of a strategy for a national mechanism for compliance that involves key stakeholders in government and private sector. This should especially be spearheaded through the agriculture competent authority structure with an aim, to ensure compliance across board for all producers of horticultural produce which will improve the broad image of Kenya as a compliant source of horticultural produce; ensure benefits to employees, environment and sustainability of resources. Overall compliance with all applicable standards will result to a healthy manpower, and stable socio-economic development for all.
Although it is difficult to measure the fiscal benefits, simple estimates shows that 100 interceptions could make the country loose around 1 billion Kshs. Hence a strategy that supports efforts to ensure that whatever is exported does not get intercepted and is compliant to all other applicable standards in Kenya and the market would increase our sales by Kshs. 1 billion or more.