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KEPHIS to spend Sh9.7 billion in provision of quality services to the agricultural sector

The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) has budgeted to spend Sh9.7 billion in the next five years as it seeks to offer better services to farmers by assuring plant health, quality of agricultural inputs and produce for a food secure nation and safe trade.

KEPHIS Managing Director Prof. Theophilus Mutui revealed that the corporation will finance its budget through internally generated funds and exchequer support from the National government.

“We have on boarded onto the e-Citizen platform through our Integrated Export Import Certification System (iEICS) where all our services are being conducted and we have made over Sh 240 million through e-Citizen since we on boarded in August 2023,” said Prof. Mutui.

Speaking on Tuesday at a Nairobi hotel during the KEPHIS strategic plan (2023-2027) stakeholders’ workshop, Prof. Mutui explained that they have a number of revenue streams which include offering services like issuance of permits for plant import, inspections charges for all agricultural produce, issuance of Phytosanitary certificates for export consignments, soil and water analysis, laboratory services, analysis of plants for pests and diseases among others.

Some of the key areas which the state corporation will be focusing on include Plant Health, Seed Quality Assurance and Plant Variety Protection, Trade Facilitation, Quality Agro- inputs and Produce, and strengthening its Institutional Capacity.

Prof Mutui said that in efforts to better reach the farmers, they regularly conduct plant clinics where farmers can bring samples of their diseased crops to KEPHIS plant doctors who examine the plants either at the clinic or at their laboratories and prescribe to farmers how to manage those conditions.

He added that they have been working with counties on such initiatives for instance in Elgeyo Marakwet and Makueni counties, they have been giving farmers insect traps for the fruit flies so that they can handle the pests and produce clean mangoes which can access international markets.

“We also intend to enhance networks and collaboration with both local and international development partners with a view to exploring avenues of cooperation in the areas of plant protection, seed trade facilitation, and laboratory work,” said Prof Mutui.

The MD highlighted that they have been able to open up more markets for Kenya’s agricultural produce where currently farmers are exporting avocados to the European Union (EU) countries like France and Netherlands.

“We have also opened up other markets and are now able to export avocados to China- the second most populous country in the world, India-the most populous nation and Malaysia. We are in the process of opening up new markets in South Korea and the USA,” explained Prof Mutui.

He said that KEPHIS over the years has realized a number of milestones with the support of key partners and stakeholders, notably; a review of the legal framework, enhanced ICT infrastructure, and use of technology through integration of export certification system with IPPC e-phyto hub, implementation of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), and Integrated Export Import certification system (IEICS), Seed Certification Plant Variety Protection System (SCPVP), maintained and expanded scope of accreditation of laboratories, certification to Quality Management Systems (QMS) and Information Security Management Systems (ISMS).

“We have also achieved compliance with market requirements to maintain and open new markets, expanded our service delivery by opening new offices, improving ease of doing business through operating in 24-hour system, integrated Ken Trade facilitation system, operationalization of the One Stop Border Post and capacity building of staff and clients,” expounded Prof Mutui.

KEPHIS board chairperson Joseph M’eruaki said that the proposed Strategic Plan has been aligned to support Kenya’s economic blueprints including Vision 2030, MTP IV, and the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) focusing on Food and Nutrition security.

M’eruaki explained that being an agriculture regulator, they are focused on ensuring that farmers get quality and certified seeds that guarantee productivity and improve the country’s food security.

He said that their next move is to see how they can take their services closer to the people by establishing county offices on top of the regional offices which will enable them to reach out to the agro dealers and seed sellers in efforts to contain the issue of fake seeds.

“KEPHIS is cognizant of the fact that the agriculture functions are devolved and has put in place plans to collaborate with the County governments in building capacity for farmers and players at the local level as a way of ensuring compliance with standards. This is expected to enhance agricultural productivity and create market access for our local agricultural produce as envisaged in the government’s BETA Pillars,” he said.

“We are also looking at the new frontiers in terms of pest surveillance to ensure that the country is safe from pests and diseases which may come through our borders and we are employing a multi-agency approach to ensure that harmful materials are not allowed into the country,” said M’eruaki.

He explained that the agriculture sector remains the main catalyst of Kenya’s economic growth. The sector contributes about 75% of industrial raw materials, 60% of export earnings, 65% of Kenya’s total exports by volume and 60% of employment.

“According to the Economic Survey 2022 report (KNBS), agricultural sub-sectors, including Tea and Horticulture rank among the highest foreign exchange earners in the country realizing Sh.163.3 billion and Sh.152 billion respectively,” said M’eruaki.

By Joseph Ng’ang’a

 

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