NAIROBI, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has developed a food safety framework to help ascertain food safety and quality from the farm to both local and international markets, a government official revealed on Wednesday.
Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, said that once it becomes operational, the framework will help strengthen the weak links along the food supply chain in the country.
"The framework will help boost good agricultural practices and also enable traders to apply good distribution practices to improve the sub-sector that currently contributes 27 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)," Bett said while opening the first fruit and vegetables conference in Nairobi.
Bett said that the framework has been completed and is awaiting approval by the cabinet to become operational.
He told the meeting that the safety of produce for Kenyan consumers is just as necessary as foreign market customers.
In 2013, Kenyan beans and peas were subjected to special inspections at port of entry into the European Union (EU) due to the presence of high pesticide levels.
This resulted into a drop in exports of both products to the EU markets and affecting 5,000 smallholder farmers.
"Food safety for the domestic market is an area that needs strategic interventions by all stakeholders to instill responsibility in the sub-sector," Bett added.
He attributed consumption of unsafe food in the country to lack of awareness by consumers to demand quality foods.
"While it is important that the domestic consumption of fresh horticultural produce continues to increase, negative food safety reports linked to fresh fruits and vegetables in the domestic market, in the last three years, threaten this and efforts at domestic level are therefore essential to resolve these food safety problems," he added.
He told participants at the conference to develop appropriate protocols to protect consumers in the domestic market from eating produce that is contaminated.
Bett observed that the level of malnutrition is currently high and is as high as 28 percent in some parts of the country due to lack of quality food yet the country is endowed with different climatic conditions that are favorable to farming activity.
The two-day conference is being attended by both private and public stakeholders in the fruit and vegetables.
The discussion ranges from the existing challenges and opportunities with greater emphasis on promoting competitiveness of Kenya's fresh fruits and vegetables agri-business through enhanced adoption of food safety standards.