Farmers urged to comply with safety standards to boost exports

Kenyan farmers producing crops for the export market have been challenged to comply with the stipulated health and environmental safety standards.

Peter Munya, cabinet secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives, said that the practice will help promote hygiene-based demand that will lead farmers to reap good income.

“We have developed agriculture based bills with provisions for relevant authorities to undertake specific surveillance duties on food produced mainly for the export market,” Munya said at a briefing in Nairobi.

Munya noted that similar farm products imported into the country will also undergo Kenya’s production standards, failure to which they will be destroyed and the importer’s license revoked.

The official observed that the government considered food safety when there is reasonable demonstrated certainty that no harm will result from its consumption under anticipated conditions of use.

“Farmers must apply good agricultural practices in the food supply chain while sellers of commodities at local or international markets too have to apply good distribution practices,” said Munya.

He announced the re-establishment of the Coffee Research Institute (CRI) from the moribund Coffee Research Foundation (CRF).

Munya said that the institute will be the lead agency in coffee breeding, developing climate-resilient coffee crop varieties and leading the scientific effort to strengthen Kenya coffee’s resistance to diseases and pests.

“The institute will be the custodian of the Kenyan coffee genome and the primary instrument for making modern genomics resources available to researchers working across the coffee production chain,” said Munya.

He said that Kenya realized a bumper maize harvest and is unlikely to import the commodity between now and April next year.

“Our main challenge has been lack of maize drying equipment but I am happy the problem has been solved by the resurgence of the sunny season after a cold season,” said Munya.

He said that maize millers in the country have been forced to reduce the price of flour since consumers have developed low purchasing power due to the effects of COVID-19.
Munya said that the reforms, including the government-sponsored bills are part of on-going agricultural reforms that seek to increase the farmers’ incomes, in line with the country’s development agenda.

The bills that included the Coffee Bill 2020, Fiber Crops Development Authority Bill 2020, Food Crops Development Bill 2020, Horticulture Crops Authority Bill 2020 and Miraa, Pyrethrum, and Industrial Crops Bill 2020 are due for debate and approval in parliament later in the year.