TOUR 2019 – Kenya
National Food Safety Policy and Capacity Building Key to Kenya’s Agricultural Growth

Organized by Rootooba Limited in Collaboration with GLOBALG.A.P.

"Consumers in the local market have started demanding quality and safe food. We, therefore, need to build capacity for our farmers so that they are able to produce and compete in both the local and global market.”  Prof. Hamadi Mboga, Permanent Secretary – State Department of Crop Development, Research and Policy.

Prof. Hamadi Boga delivered this key message at the two-day TOUR conference organized by Rootooba Limited, which was held at the headquarters of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) on 30 October - 01 November 2019. The highly anticipated event attracted more than 630+ agribusiness professionals from the crops sector, dealing with production and export of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, and related sub-sectors, as well as representatives of national and international buyers, and the country's farming industry.

Kenya's Government to Establish National Food Authority to Address Safety Demands
Food safety is a growing major concern for consumers given that 98% of food produced in Kenya is consumed locally by 50 million Kenyans. This is also largely due to growing media coverage in recent years highlighting the link between food safety and disease outbreaks, as microbial contaminants and alleged effects of pesticides residues on the burden of disease arose.

Agriculture accounts for 51% of Kenya’s gross domestic product, with approximately 80% of agricultural production contributed by smallholder and medium-sized farms. The Kenyan Government has various laws, standards, and policies to address food safety across the value chains in order to ensure consumers have access to safe food. However, what is needed is a robust national food safety system complete with support infrastructure and competencies in the form of testing capability and personnel.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Hamadi Boga announced the establishment of a food safety agency as a joint initiative of the State Department of Crop Development, Research and Policy and the Ministry of Health to address the inadequacies currently affecting the local market.

Most of the focus in the past has been on export. But on the local market we have relied on the department of public health. Complex issues that we deal within food safety has grown beyond public health. We need a more multi-disciplinary agency to be able to deliver the full mandate,” Prof. Hamadi Boga said.

The Kenyan government has identified food security as one of the key pillars of its Big Four agenda, alongside manufacturing, affordable housing, and universal health care. It hopes to improve access to affordable, safe, and nutritious food for Kenya’s growing population and to improve the livelihoods and productivity of agricultural businesses.

Panel Discussions and Q&A Sessions
In a panel discussion covering public-private linkages to support local and international trade in safe fresh produce, Jim Jefcoate, Director of Hurdletree Associates (UK), and former GLOBALG.A.P. Vice-Chairman, stressed that “ the greatest issue now is food fraud and can be related to food safety. Consumers want to get value for money and continue to demand more information about the products they buy. Fraudulently supplied products impact negatively on the integrity and reputation of the supplier.”

He added that growers and governments need to invest in “a dopting culturally embedded ways of dealing with food fraud issues – ways that are more sustainable and better help to curb the vice. In the long run demand will increase and thereafter, strategic placement of the products in the market will be beneficial to the suppliers.”

The conference sessions also covered the economic benefits of good agricultural practices and introduced GLOBALG.A.P. services for local and export markets, such as GLOBALG.A.P. Add-ons, the Farm Assurer Program, and the localg.a.p. program. Discussions included the use and control of pesticides, the impact of GLOBALG.A.P. certification on food supply chains, and the key requirements for legality, safety, and quality of primary products.

Responsible Farming Practices - A Must for Smallholders and Medium-Sized Producers
Kenya’s government also appreciates the role of GLOBALG.A.P. and other private standards, who have contributed a high amount value by spreading transparency and accountability in international trade, by certifiying the production and produce handling regardless of its source. Food safety certification has resulted in fair trading practices and responsible produce sourcing taking into account human rights, social welfare of workers, and environmental conservation.

In his presentation, Flavio Alzueta, GLOBALG.A.P. Vice President & CMO, pressured the importance of complying with good agricultural practices requirements as the minimum measure for “small and medium-sized producers who need to access and maintain these markets. In particular, producers of fresh fruits and vegetables, avocado, herbs, macadamia, grains, tubers, coffee and tea who want to improve their farm operations, safety, quality and traceability to claim a market share in the lucrative international markets must adopt responsible farming practices.”

In his closing remarks, Mr. Anthony Muriithi, Director of the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), confirmed that, the AFA fully supports the adoption of GLOBALG.A.P. as it serves as a benchmark for developing local standards. Compliance with good agricultural practices is a key driver to getting Kenyan products on the local and international markets, and is responsible for transitioning small-scale producers from subsistence farming into global agribusiness players.

Farm Visits – GLOBALG.A.P. in Practice
On the third day delegates had the opportunity to visit one of three GLOBALG.A.P. certified farms in the region. The field trips were organized to AAA Growers, Mitchell Cotts, and Magana Flowers.