Program invests in training farmers to boost produce quality

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Participants of the TOT on Good Agricultural Practices during a field visit

BY RACHEL KIBUI

June 30, 2016, Nairobi. A European Union (EU)-funded program is bringing revolution in Kenya’s horticulture and other agriculture sectors in a bid to widen her sales locally and internationally.Dubbed Standards and Market Access Program (SMAP) the initiative has been training players in this sector mainly on high quality production that enhances a wider market locally and internationally.

Horticulture and tea dominate Kenya’s main exports with the EU absorbing over 25 percent of the total exports especially horticultural produce, tea and coffee.

Under the horticultural sector, SMAP has been training players in the sector especially agronomists who in turn train farmers and other stakeholders.

Among major components of the trainings include Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), major pests and diseases of concern and the major opportunities across the chain.

The program, which also focuses on aquaculture, apiculture, dairy and meat sectors, is mainly implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO)

Other partners include Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Department of Veterinary Services, Kenya Dairy Board, Fresh Produce Exporters Association (FPEAK)

Christine Misiko, SMAP’s National Coordinator says the focus is not only to improve quality and market access internationally, but also in the country.

“We have been encouraging players across the chain to take issues of quality seriously locally as they do for the international market,” She says

The EU injected 12.1 million Euros (Ksh1.2bn) through the SMAP program in a bid to boost the knowledge and implementation of good practices in the targeted sector.

Misiko notes that over 90 percent of EU imports from Kenya are agro-based thus, the keen interest in the sector.

“Enhancing the quality assessment capability in the standards and certification bodies and improving the private sector capacity to conform to international standards, are considered to be of key importance to the diversification and increase of exports,” she adds

The standards related to food safety and quality cover several components, often interlinked among them and depending on each other.

They have to comply with the WTO, SPS and TBT agreements to which Kenya is signatory, with Codex standards, regional EAC standards and with more and more stringent global market requirements.

SMAP’s objectives include to contribute to the domestication of international standards for animal and plant-based products and broaden the demand for SPS testing and standardization of quality in animal and plant-based products.

It also aims at enhancing the capacities of the key Kenyan institutions in the enforcement of standards for animal and plant-based products and in service delivery.

Beneficiaries of this program have hailed the initiative saying they are already implementing what they learnt.

“Before the training, I, and indeed many women never used to cover our hair or even keep our nails short,” says a farmer based in Embu

She adds that she has also learnt on, among other things, record keeping and need to practise contract farming as opposed to depending on brokers.

FPEAK Technical Manager Francis Wario says over 200 agronomists have directly trained and through SMAP, over 5000 farmers reached.

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