Kenya, China MoU on farming standards will boost market
2018/11/19

The Chinese General Administration of Customs and Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures on November 9. It is anticipated that close collaboration between the two governments in this area will pave way for Kenyan agricultural products to access the Chinese market.

 

The signing of this MoU comes in the wake of concerns in Kenya and the rest of Africa regarding the rising trade imbalance vis-à-vis China. While Kenya seeks to build its manufacturing capacity as part of its efforts to industrialize and increase its exports, exportation of agricultural products, which we are significantly endowed with, remains the low hanging fruit, particularly taking into consideration the vast Chinese market.

 

However, our agricultural exports to China and the rest of the world have not been at optimal rates due to our failure to meet the sanitary and phytosanitary standards of the export markets.

 

For example, it is only this year when South Africa lifted its ban on avocados from Kenya. The ban had been in place for 11 years due to the presence of the oriental fruit fly. The SPS standards are meant to protect human, animal or plant life or health of the export market. SPS measures may therefore be in response to existence of pests, residues in pesticides and herbicides or other exterior contaminants such as radioactive contamination.

 

It is therefore paramount that the Kenyan government continues to engage its partners to facilitate co-operation in the area of SPS standards and measures. Such co-operation would ensure that while foreign governments do not compromise on their health standards, Kenyan farmers are able to access the foreign markets.

 

Co-operation could entail harmonisation of standards and procedures between Kenya and foreign markets, in addition to capacity building of Kenyan testing facilities. Such steps would ensure that products can be cleared for export from this end of the trade chain. That is, the SPS tests undertaken by officials in Kenya would be sufficient for purposes of allowing access into the Chinese market.

 

That said, the government ought to put in place measures to ensure that farmers are sufficiently informed of the SPS standards of the target export market. Currently, there is a groundnut craze, which closely follows the avocado craze.

 

However, farmers in these products are not sufficiently informed of the requirements that their products ought to meet.and educating producers would therefore ensure that the SPS standards are observed from the point of planting, all the way to harvesting and packaging.

 

Such capacity building would be profitable as demonstrated by a 2012 study by Cuts International. This study found that Kenyan flower producers and exporters were able to access the European market because they had internalised the standards set by their buyers and other stakeholders (particularly in Europe).

 

It is therefore hoped that the MoU, together with measures taken at the domestic level will ensure that Kenyan farmers have a larger market for their produce.

 


(business Daily)

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