KENYA – The government of Kenya, through the National Horticulture Task Force (NHT), has launched Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) guidelines for avocados, Beans, and Peas in pods to enhance opportunities in the horticulture sub-sector.
The National Horticulture Taskforce (NHT) is a multi-stakeholder forum with a representation of about 20 organizations from both the public and private sectors 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 GAP guidelines aim to address challenges farmers face in commercial quality and regulatory requirements.
National Horticulture Taskforce chairperson, Clement Tulezi explained 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 include compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary requirements such as the 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,” he said.
Tulezi added that the good practice guides contain strategies for addressing disease prevalence which has led to the unripening of mature fruits or hardening and harvesting of immature avocados that have led to the flagging of the avocado exports to the niche markets.
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 of 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.
He noted that the document belongs to the industry and therefore professionals from the sector should disseminate and help in its implementation and ensure it is updated regularly.
Program Coordinator for the NExT Kenya Programme, Dr. Kedera Chagema elaborated that full implementation of the good practice guides will ensure and assure compliance with requirements thereby enhancing the competitiveness of the horticultural sector in the local, regional, and international market.
Harsama Kello, the Principal Secretary of State Department for Crop Development, pointed out that the horticulture subsector has overtaken the tea industry in the past decade to be the leading foreign revenue earner for the country.
“In 2022, the country earned Sh146 billion from horticulture exports, with flowers contributing Sh103 billion, vegetables Sh23 billion, and fruits Sh20 billion,” Kello said.
More than 150,000 small-scale farmers participate in Beans, Peas, Avocado, and other horticulture product value chains for the export market that brings into the country an average of Sh150 billion annually.