Land O’Lakes Venture37 through the Trade of Agriculture Safely and Efficiently (TRASE) project has signed an MoU with the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC). The partnership aims to support compliance of smallholder horticulture producers meet Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) standards.

The partnership comes at a time when the horticulture sector faces challenges that impact on capacity to provide safe food to its citizenry and sustain access to international markets. Border interceptions of harmful organisms have been reported in the EU and other markets. Due to rising interceptions, KEPHIS, the regulatory authority implements stringent inspection and certification requirements that several small holder producers are not able to comply with.

Land O’Lakes Venture37 and FPC expect that improved quality of produce and working closely with Government regulatory agencies will experience a reduction in the amount of produce that is rejected locally and internationally. Data collected from the capacity building efforts will be shared with regulatory agencies and could be used to design and implement risk-based inspection regimes, with cost saving benefits to government regulators and the private sector.

To build a strong foundation for the initiative, Land O’Lakes Venture37 is working with FPC, the Avocado Society of Kenya (ASOK), KEPHIS and HCD in identification, training and mentoring of farm assurers. The training is based on International GAP standards, and it entails theoretical and on farm practical mentorship sessions. The farm assurers will be instrumental in guiding a targeted over 800 farmers through a one-year GAP capacity building initiative.

“The signed MoU heralds our commitment to strengthening Public-private partnerships in Kenya and the East African Community at large. At the heart of the MoU are joint efforts by the Government and private sector horticulture apex bodies to build capacity of smallholder horticulture farmers to adopt good agricultural practices (GAP) based on national and international standards, and therefore improve the quality of farm produce,” said Martha Byanyima, the Chief of Party from Land O’Lakes Venture37.

“We believe strong and efficient SPS systems will guarantee access to safe food by citizens, resulting in increased intra EAC trade and more access of agriculture exports to international markets. However, for this to happen, engagement with the private sector is key. We will leverage private sector investments in SPS capacity through encouraging more public private partnerships in the region,” said Okisegere Ojepat, the Fresh Produce Consortium CEO.