NAIROBI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The Kenyan government is negotiating with the EU over restrictions on the horticultural products from the East African country to European markets.
Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary Romano Kiome on Thursday said the EU put Kenya on the list of countries with 10 percent increased MRLs (Maximum Residual Levels) checks on exported beans and peas in pods.
"The government supports the European Union on other measures taken. These are vetting of all exporters, registration of marketing agents and brokers, putting in place a tracking system of export produce, training of staff on sampling of export products for testing of the minimum residual levels and training of farmers on good agricultural practices," Kiome said in a statement.
He said Kenya was lobbying to have it excluded from the list, adding that the country has maintained a strict food safety policy for all its exports.
Kenya, among other countries, exports substantial fresh produce into the European markets.
On Dec. 4, 2012, the EU Directorate of Health and Consumers took the decision to review Annex 1 of regulation 669/2009 to increase levels of checks for a variety of commodities from various countries, including Kenya's beans and peas in pods.
Under the tough compliance procedures, exporters to the EU will be required to fill a Common Entry Document (CED) which would be counter-checked by authorities to confirm compliance with all safety controls on harmful elements such as Aflatoxins, pesticide residues and metals such as lead.
MRL which are the legal levels of concentration of pesticide residues in or on food are meant to ensure the lowest possible deposits for consumer exposure or consumption.
The Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services has been accredited to carry out such inspections on behalf of the EU thereby helping traders to avoid the expensive double inspection of their produce both at the point of exit and entry to the export market.
The EU is a key market for fruits and vegetables as well Nile Perch (fish) from Kenya. The European market bloc also takes up a large portion of Kenyan beverages such as coffee and tea.
The rules are part of new compulsory compliance procedures that were meant to take effect in Jan. 1 and will be implemented at 10 percent level for all Kenyan exports of French beans, snow peas, mangetout, runner beans, sugar snaps and valore beans to the EU market.
Following the EU market decision on the controls, the Kenyan government has convened several meetings to appraise stakeholders on the new developments.
Detailed action plans have been prepared, through the horticultural competent authority to implement traceability plan for the horticultural sub sector, enforce an enhanced pesticide residue monitoring plan, monitor pesticide formulation quality and train producers on Good Agricultural Practice (GAP).
"We should be in a position to give information on the progress made so far by next month. We are working to ensure that farmers are not negatively affected by the new laws," Kiome said.
The horticulture sector, expected to double production in the next one year, employs about two million people directly and 3.5 million people indirectly.
Kiome observed that the horticultural sector is important in Kenya's economic development as it raises incomes to rural communities as well as improving the country's balance of payments.
"The horticulture sector employs about two million people directly and 3.5 million people indirectly. Horticulture is currently contributing 36 percent of the Agriculture GDP and is expected to rise to 58 percent of the Agriculture GDP," he said.
The government has set up Practical Training Center which is a collaborative industry initiative to coordinate capacity building activities in horticulture.
PTC undertakes capacity building in standards in compliance with focus on Good Agricultural Practice.
The purpose is to equip farmers with skills in sustainable production so that they maximize productivity and maintain access to high value markets through compliance.
A number of Kenyan consignments have recently been locked out of the EU after buyers raised concern over the usage of a pesticide known as Dimethoate which is popular among Kenyan vegetable producers.