For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Mar 23rd 2015
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK MARCH 21-27,2015 D E VE LO PME N T 35 Any dealer in Kenya will be able to pin down the farmer who fails to adhere to regulations.” Rosemary Amondi, MD, Tracesoft ulations,” said Dipesh Devraj, chairman of FPEAK. In 2012, the European Union Food Safety Controls and Enforcement enacted the EU669 regulations. Regulation No 882/2004 pro- Workers at a fresh produce firm at the export processing zone in Athi River, on the outskirts of Nairobi County. Picture: File System to ensure the safety of food from farm to fork now being tested The National T≥aceability System is expected to boost t≥anspa≥ency in the handling of f≥esh p≥oduce By CLIFFORD GIKUNDA Special Correspondent duce sub-sector have embarked on an 18-month pilot project that will see the seamless movement of fresh produce from the farmer to the consumer. This follows the launch of the T National Traceability System on March 10 in Nairobi, aimed at enhancing transparency in the handling of fresh produce, which has been the cause of friction between exporters and the government. Just two years ago, the Euro- pean Union imposed a 10 per cent inspection fee on the value of fresh beans and peas exports from Kenya, because authorities had failed to demonstrate that an effective system for monitoring the use of pesticides in the country’s produce was in place. The fee is one of factors that led to a 40 per cent decline in the volumes of the commodities exported to the EU, a key market for Kenya’s fresh produce. Gwynne Foster, a consultant on tracking agricultural produce, said the NTS will ensure that food is handled with integrity, and give consumers the confidence that the products on their dinner tables are safe for he Kenyan government and stakeholders in the fresh pro- consumption. The NTS pilot project will in- volve 1,000 farmers and dealers, and if successful, will be adopted throughout the country. The system offers the guaran- tee that procedures are adhered to from farm to fork, and that relevant data on the produce is recorded — from the farmers to transporters, the packaging and export stages, to the point it gets to the consumer. Identification codes “The electronic traceability system will issue special identification codes for the farmer, the location where the produce was grown, the transporter and any other logistics until the product gets to the consumer,” said Allan Odhiambo, CEO of GS1, a leading manufacturer of grain storage, material handling and conditioning systems. “That makes it easy to trace the process.” This will in turn aid the re- cording of risk profiles and conducting investigations. The NTS will also ensure that the period that government agencies require to conduct inspection is shortened, thereby minimising interruptions in the business chain. Bundi Kinoti, a fresh produce dealer for the past 20 years, understands the cost of not adhering to standards. He is among farmers whose produce was withdrawn from the EU market two years ago. “I could not pay the farmers, my loans or school fees for my children,” he said. Ordinarily, Mr Kinoti would buy a variety of foodstuffs including fresh beans and peas from different farmers in his home area of Timau in Meru County on the slopes of Mt Kenya. He would then re-sell the produce to exporters who BENEFITS OF TRACEABILITY SYSTEM The National Traceability System, launched in Nairobi on March 10, will: SAFETY: Ensure that food is handled with integrity and give consumers the confidence that the products on their dinner tables are safe for consumption. RISK PROFILES: Help in the recording of risk profiles and conducting investigations. It will issue special identification codes for the farmer, the location where the produce was grown, the transporter and any other logistics until the product gets to the consumer. INSPECTION: Ensure that the period that government agencies require to conduct inspection is shortened, thereby minimising interruptions in the business chain. GRAFT: Weed out corruption in the industry, and open up markets in new destinations that had doubted the capacity of Kenya to provide quality, safe fresh products. would then send the products to Europe. “That’s why traceability is important,” said Rosemary Amondi, managing director of Tracesoft, one of the companies implementing the project. “Any dealer or broker in Kenya will be able to pin down the farmer who fails to adhere to regulations.” The products can still be re- called from their destinations in case they got there through a suspicious route, or were handled by unauthorised personnel. Kenya is the largest producer and exporter of fresh produce in the region. It is also the global leader in the supply of fresh products to the European Union. “It is these markets in the EU that we need to safeguard,” said Cecily Kariuki, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, at the launch of the NTS. “We need to adhere to the regulations and ensure we enforce the laws for easy marketing of our products to the European Union, which has been our trading partner for a long time.” The Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) lauded the move and added that the traceability system would weed out corruption in the industry, and open up markets in other destinations that had doubted the capacity of Kenya to provide high quality, safe fresh products. “We are optimistic that the system will open up more opportunities for everyone along the value chain, especially the farmers who adhere to the reg- vides a general framework for official controls by the member states to verify compliance with feed and food laws, and also animal health and animal feed. Among the issues this law defines is the minimum residue levels in each product imported to the European Union member countries, and how the food was produced. Minimum residue level is the amount of chemical remains in a product, and it must not exceed a certain level. The use of some chemicals on food products has been banned too. These include the pesticide dimethoate. Whereas it is acceptable in cotton farming in many African countries, it is banned in the EU on any foods for human consumption. The traceability system comes in the wake of major catastrophes that have hit the world particularly in Europe and the US, including E coli outbreak in the year 2011, that left 50 dead and thousands affected. Horse meat scandal In early 2012, in what became known as the “horse meat scandal” in the UK, Irish inspectors said they had found traces of horse meat in some frozen burgers stocked by leading UK supermarkets. “Over the next few months, a number of stores and suppliers across the UK and Europe had to remove products labelled as beef after test results revealed they contained varying quantities of horse meat — in some cases up to 100 per cent,” the BBC reported. In the US, there have been outbreaks of the listeria monocytogenes bacteria in which 146 people fell sick, 142 were hospitalised and 33 lost their lives. The source was later to be found to be contaminated cantaloupes. Mad Cow Disease has been causing scares around the world since it was discovered in the UK in 1986, leading to deaths and quarantines on meat products exported to the UK and other European markets. “The ‘horse meat scandal’ and other outbreaks brought to the fore the need for food integrity with greater emphasis on specifications and standards,” said Sian Thomas from the Fresh Produce Consortium (UK).
Mar 16th 2015
Mar 30th 2015