The government is committed to ensuring that Kenya complies with the established standards for exporting fresh produce, with the goal of minimizing interceptions and safeguarding the horticulture sector.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Harsama Kello emphasized the government’s dedication to ensuring that fresh produce exports to Europe and other destinations adhere to these standards to prevent rejections and the associated high business costs.

During the 4th phytosanitary conference in Nairobi, Mr Kello pointed out that stringent regulations imposed by export destinations have resulted in local fresh produce either being banned outright or subjected to extensive laboratory testing, significantly inflating business expenses.

He highlighted the rising number of notifications in the past decade due to exceeding maximum residual pesticide levels.

Nevertheless, Mr Kello noted that collaboration between the government and export destinations has significantly reduced the issue of pesticide exceedance. He assured export destinations that local fresh produce suppliers now conform to global standards, and the shipments sent daily are free from foreign materials and excessive pesticide residues.

The Managing Director of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), Theophilus Mutui, highlighted the increasing risk of introducing pests during trade due to globalisation and market liberalisation, which have facilitated the movement of goods and people across borders.

Kephis is actively enhancing the region’s capacity through its Center of Phytosanitary Excellence, offering training to plant health and agricultural practitioners in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), including the implementation of international sanitary and phytosanitary provisions and modern diagnostic methods.

Additionally, Kephis has implemented systems for seed certification, enabling farmers to access climate-resilient and high-yielding seeds and propagating materials to boost productivity.

The presence of the International Seed Testing Association (ISTA) certified laboratory in Kephis Nakuru supports not only Kenya but also the wider region in providing certified seeds for various crops.

Joseph M’eruaki M’uthari, the Chair of Kephis’ board, emphasized the institution’s investments in Pest Risk Analysis, border surveillance and inspection, quarantine, diagnostic systems, and analytical testing capacity, all of which support the import and export of plants.

He recognised Kenya’s globally acclaimed fresh produce and the pivotal role played by Kephis in ensuring compliance with market requirements, thus contributing significantly to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

Hon M’uthari also mentioned Kephis’ investments in procedure automation and integration with other government systems, aiming to streamline trading activities and reduce business costs.

The three-day conference convened various stakeholders from the private, public, national, regional, and international arenas within the plant health sector to discuss measures for implementing phytosanitary standards in alignment with market demands.