Building capacity to help Africa trade better

European Union gives Sh1bn to boost Kenyan exports


European Union gives Sh1bn to boost Kenyan exports

European Union gives Sh1bn to boost Kenyan exports
Workers packing French beans for export at a farm in Naivasha. The EU has given 12.1 million Euros (Sh1.26bn) to various players in Kenya’s export industry in a bid to save the ailing sector. Photo credit: Jeff Angote | Nation Media Group

The European Union (EU) has channelled 12.1 million euros (Sh1.26bn) to various players in Kenya’s export industry in a bid to save the ailing sector.

The money is to be spent on a project dubbed Standards and Market Access Programme (SMAP) which aims at extending capacity on Kenya’s technical and phytosanitary barriers to international trade.

According to SMAP Chief Technical Advisor Mr Stefano Sedola, a number of Kenyan producers have encountered difficulties in accessing the EU market especially in 2013 and 2014.

The products that have been mostly affected, according to Mr Sedola, include French beans, snow peas, gypsophila, karalla and roses, among others.

Except for roses, most of other products come from small scale farmers who grow on less than one-acre of land.

“SMAP will address issues such as information on phytosanitary certificate, harmful organisms and modified documents,” said Mr Sedola.

The project is set to run until December 2016 and will be implemented by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido).

Other implementing partners are the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

Strategies that aim at boosting international trade include capacity building for producers such as agronomists and farmers doing organic farming and addressing practices that hinder demand for Kenyan products.

The move comes at a time when the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) Technical Manager Mr Francis Wario warned that the country risked losing its approximated Sh60 billion annual earnings from the export of fresh produce.

“All players in the chain must keenly watch over issues such as maximum residue levels as required by the export market,” said Mr Wario.


He said farmers must think of using organic farming to control pests and diseases in a bid to minimize chemical use.

Farmers, Mr Wario added, needed to be trained on proper use of chemicals as most have been misinformed by money-hungry agro chemical sellers who want to boost their sales.

Mr Wario blamed ‘briefcase’ exporters for trying to export produce that had not met the international requirements causing interceptions and losses.

“The briefcase exporters who use shortcuts and try to sneak sub-standard produce, most of which is contaminated, are spoiling for us all,” he said.

He added that exporters are working on ensuring that there is an organised way of following the whole chain from production to export in a bid to minimize chances of having brokers in the trade.

Agriculture accounts for an approximated 27 per cent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) with an estimated 80 per cent of the population depending on this sector.

Already, experts have warned that Kenya may lose her capsicum export market in the EU due to False Codling Moth (FCM) – an indigenous pest only found in Africa – experts have warned.

Neighbouring Uganda has already stopped exporting capsicum to EU due to numerous interceptions after her produce was found to be FCM contaminated.

“Our capsicum has already been intercepted severally from late last year and we risk losing the market if something is not done,” said Mr Wario.


Though he would not give the exact number of interceptions, Mr Wario said even once was a threat enough.

Experts now want Kenyan farmers to be cautious of the moth, lest the market be lost.

Although FCM is not a quarantine pest currently, the EU members are planning to pass a law against any produce contaminated by the insect.

According to Samuel Kagumba, a sanitary and phytosanitary consultant, FCM is rated among the top five key pests affecting fresh produce trade in Kenya.

“Kenya urgently needs to carry out surveillance to know the pest’s distribution,” said Kagumba

Other top pests that pose a challenge to the EU market include Spolodoptera Littoralis, Bemisia Tobaci, Liriomyza Spp and Thrips.

The pests, according to Kagumba, were listed last year by the EU.

If Kenya manages to control the pest, its export market for capsicum may expand as it stands chances of taking up a share of what Uganda used to export, according to Mr Kagumba.


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