Harmonise standards to bar low quality local foodstuff
Article written by AGATHA NGOTHO @agathangotho
Fresh Produce players have raised alarm how fresh produce rejects barred from international markets find their way to local meal tables.
Okesegere Ojepat, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Consortium (FPC Kenya) chief executive officer said they are in consultation with local supermarkets and producers to ensure that what is sold in the local market also meets international standards.
Paul Mwenda, a board member of FPC said the consortium will be working towards harmonizing the international and domestic standards for fresh produce so that what is consumed locally is also of high quality.
“We have realized that what is offered in the domestic market is mainly rejects from the international market. But we now want to ensure that whatever is offered in the local market is also of standard such as those provided in the international market,” he said.
Mwenda said the consortium will also be lobbying for better freight prices which is currently at Sh112 per kilo.
“This is high but small-scale exporters must get organized and be able to get huge volumes so that they are able to negotiate lower prices with the freight providers,” said Mwenda.
The current volume of five to ten tonnes cannot be guaranteed space and the exporters have to pay at hand, unlike large-scale exporters.
“Right now each exporter is working on their own, but if we come together, we can be able to negotiate better prices,” he added.
Ojepat was speaking at the official launch of FPC Kenya, which rebranded from Kenya Association of Fruits and Vegetable Exporters.
“With the rebranding, more areas will be covered particularly domestic market which has never been well coordinated. We will also be able to engage with more stakeholders and grow the sector,” he said.
He noted several challenges in the fresh produce sector including lack of traceability, the high cost of production, lack of extension services, poor information follow, brokers/middlemen menace, insufficient cooling facilities, weak compliance to food safety requirements and taxation issues.
Ojepat said going forward FPC Kenya will focus on ensuring proper representation, lobbying and advocacy for its members.
“We will also ensure capacity building, food safety, food and nutritional security, food loss and waste, and trade, which we believe will enable us to expand the fresh produce sector in terms of production capacity and earnings,” he said.
Exporters of fresh produce earned Sh115.25 billion in 2017 which is an 11 per cent increase over Sh103.8 billion earnings in 2016.
Okesegere Ojepat, Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Consortium (FPC Kenya) chief executive officer said the sector remained resilient amid political and economic uncertainties of the 2017.
“We laud the resilience of the fresh produce sector in the eye of the political and economic storm witnessed in 2017 and we are happy with the performance. This is the similar resilience that enabled the sector weather the Brexit shock, pointing to the greater potential of the sector,” said Ojepat.
The domestic fresh produce market sector earned Sh305 billion, but the CEO said the figure could be higher as a bigger portion of trade at the domestic market levels is not captured.
“We still have a challenge in collecting data on what is traded locally but this is a problem we also want to address,” he said.
According to data by FPC Kenya, flower exports contributed Sh82.24 billion up from Sh70.83 billion earned in 2016. This represented 11.6 percent growth, on export volume of 159,961 metric tonnes.
Fruits and vegetables earned Sh9 billion and Sh. 24 billion, on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes, respectively.
The cut-flower export still remains the largest earner, contributing over 70 percent of the total fresh produce annual earnings.
How will Healthy Green Choice contribute towards the solution?
Healthy Green Choice (HCG) is a label that creates value to food systems based on compliance with economic, environmental and social (inter)national standards for responsible production and handling of food. This model encourages producers and other value chain players to produce and handle responsibly, in accordance with food safety standards, through offering them a crucial economic incentive: they receive a better return on investment by selling their produce through HGC food systems.
HGC partner, ProFound, is building this label based on the success of its integrated compliance tool, the NI-CheckApp. This one-stop compliance tool reduced the amount of documentation for multiple standards (EU-organic, FairWild, Fair and GACP) in the natural ingredients sector by over 50%, resulting in substantial cost savings and up 30% savings on certification costs. It did this through integrated harmonisation of all the necessary documentation. It is ProFounds goal to expand this tool to include Fresh Fruits and Vegetables as well. The model encourages SMEs and other value chain players to produce and handle responsibly, in accordance with food safety standards, through offering them a crucial economic incentive: they receive a better return on investment by selling their produce through HGC food systems.
The process criteria and documentation are based on compliance-related outputs to voluntary certifications ( such as EU-organic, Fair, Fair Wild), principles to Good Agricultural and Collection Practices and (inter) national standards (Global GAP, KS1758, HACCP & ISO22000).