The government through the National Horticulture Task force (NHT) has launched Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) guidelines for Avocado, Beans and Peas in pods.
The guidelines will go a long way in addressing the challenges farmers face in relating to the commercial quality and the regulatory requirements as well as enhance opportunities in the horticulture sub sector.
National Horticulture Taskforce Chairman, Clement Tulezi said that the good agricultural guides have come at a critical moment in the horticultural sector of Kenya which is currently facing major bottlenecks that need to be addressed to enable it to competitively thrive in the marketplace.
“The Good Agricultural Practice Guides have been developed by the stakeholders to address the challenges relating to the commercial quality and the regulatory requirements for beans, peas and avocado.
These challenges, he added include compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary requirements such as presence of harmful organisms and maximum residue limits for pesticides, use of quality and true to type planting materials and adoption of good hygiene practices.
Additionally, Tulezi noted that there has been disease prevalence which has led to un-ripening of mature fruits or hardening.
“Some farmers have been harvesting immature avocados which has led to flagging of the avocado exports to the niche markets. The good practice guides contain strategies on addressing these challenges,” he said.
Harsama Kello, the Principal Secretary, State Department for Crop Development said that horticulture is the fastest growing sub-sector in Agriculture and has been on a steady rise in terms of production volumes and revenue for the last 10 years.
He added that the foreign earnings from the subsector have surpassed the tea industry which has been a major foreign exchange and income earner and the gap in earnings has since been widening.
“In 2022, the country earned Sh146 billion from horticulture exports, with flowers contributing Sh103 billion, vegetables Sh23 billion and fruits Sh20 billion,” Kello said.
The PS acknowledged that the private sector plays a very big role in the industry of exporting Beans, Peas, Avocado and other horticulture products with more than 150,000 small scale farmers participating in value chains for the export market and with large scale farmers-small scale linkages as a driving force as well as marketing strength.
Kello said the Ministry will continue creating an enabling environment for the sub sector to thrive and ensure that the country realizes the desired agriculture transformation.
The good practices involved other partners namely the NExt Kenya Programme, European Union, Kenya Flower Council and the COLEAD (Committee Linking Entrepreneurship Agriculture Development) among others.
Director General, COLEAD, Jeremy Knops said the Good Practice Guides developed will be subjected to review from time to time to make it compliant with changes in the market as they emerge.
“This document belongs to the industry and therefore professionals from the sector should disseminate and help in its implementation and ensure it is updated regularly,” Knops said
Program Coordinator for the NExT Kenya Programme Dr. Kedera Chagema urged the stakeholders within the avocado, beans and peas value chains to be aware, read, comprehend and adopt the practice as indicated within the guides.
“Full implementation of the good practice guides will ensure and assure compliance with requirements thereby enhance the competitiveness of the horticultural sector in the local, regional and international market”, said Dr. Chagema.
The National Horticulture Taskforce (NHT) is a multi-stakeholder forum with representation of about 20 organizations from both public and private sector in the horticulture sub sector, promoting private-public sector dialogue and whose goal is to ensure Kenya’s horticultural produce complies with market requirements and sustains its reputation as a leading grower and exporter of horticultural produce.
The horticulture industry brings into the country an average of Sh150 billion annually. The sub sector has registered tremendous growth driven by increased demand for high quality and safe produce for local and export markets.
According to experts, sustaining this growth for the benefit of the actors and the government will require a paradigm shift in the horticultural value chains to ensure efficiency and quality assurance.
By Wangari Ndirangu