Europe has given Kenya two months by to comply with phytosanitary requirements for taming pests on its horticulture produce or have its fresh cargo subjected to tighter checks, which would make it uncompetitive in the lucrative export market.
At a meeting held last week in Brussels, Kenya was given up to September to address the issue, failing which the level of sampling of commodities coming from the country would be increased to 25 per cent from the current 10 per cent and five per cent initially.
Interception of Kenya’s horticultural produce has been heightened of late following the presence of the False Codling Moth, which is a quarantine pest in Europe.
If the level of sampling is increased to 25 per cent, it means exporters will have to wait longer before their commodity gets to the shelf, and as such they will incur extra charges for storage in the cold room.
Due to this, stakeholders fear that they could lose up to 40 per cent of their market if corrective measures are not taken.
“We fear that we are going to lose the market advantage that we have in Europe if we do not address the issue of these pests in our exports,” said Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Ojepat Okisegere.
“As we wait for our products to be cleared, other countries that have complied with the requirements will have their commodities in the shelves way ahead of us and this is how our crucial market will be weakened,” he said.
AVOID OPEN-FIELD CULTIVATION
Head of Horticulture Directorate Benjamin Tito said the pest poses a serious threat to the country’s main market and that they are moving with speed to sensitise growers on this insect that mainly affects flowers and capsicum.
“We shall be talking to farmers on the appropriate methods to use in order to contain these pests and protect our European market,” said Mr Tito.
Mr Tito said they are advising growers to avoid open-field cultivation and instead encourage the use of screening nets to curb the pest.
He noted that the menace is a challenge for Kenya given that the pesticide that is recommended for its control is not allowed in the EU and its use will lead to high levels of residues in the crops, which could lead to a ban on the exports.