Kenya

Kebs eyes more exports using better testing kits

Kebs eyes more exports using better testing kits

Workers at Canken International pack avocados for export at the Eldoret International Airport on February 23, 2011.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

The Kenya National Bureau of Standards (Kebs) will scale up certification of horticulture consignments destined for Europe to shore up exports and retain this lucrative market.

Managing director Bernard Njiraini says they are seeking more investment in testing kits to ensure only certified horticultural produce accesses key international markets.

Farmers have been advised to adhere to the minimum residue levels, which is required under the European Union (EU) regulations especially at the planting stage to help conform to global food safety standards across the whole production value chain. “We have the capacity to check mangoes and avocados going to Europe but we need more equipment to help on these checks,” said Mr Njiraini.

The EU yesterday donated testing equipment worth over Sh500 million as part of its market access programme ahead of the annual world standards day that is marked tomorrow.

The MD urged growers seeking to export agricultural goods to the European Union to ensure that their produce complies with the market requirement in order to minimise interception by authorities.

Exports of mangoes

Kenya’s horticulture exports to Europe have been facing phytosanitary challenges in Europe, a move that has seen some of the produce restricted from accessing the market. This comes at a time when Kenya is preparing to resume exports of mangoes to Europe after the country placed a self-imposed ban nearly a decade ago on the back of fruit flies that was present on Kenya’s fruits, risking a ban from the EU.

Last month, Kenya exported five tonnes of mangoes to Italy after putting in place corrective measures, according to Kenya Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis) on pilot basis ahead of the resumption of the European market.

“Italy received the consignment that we sent so well and they are even asking for more, this now gives us a window to resume exports to Europe,” said Kephis managing director Theophilus Mutui.

The self-imposed ban saw Kenya rely on a less lucrative Middle East market but with the presence of hot water treatment to contain the fruit flies, the lucrative European market is beckoning for farmers.

Kephis said the country is establishing a number of hot water treatment units in the country to help tame the menace caused by these pests and fully resume the European market as well as cut overreliance on the middle-east.