The Kenyan horticultural sector is developing a digital system that will allow products that do not meet standards to be recalled anywhere along the value chain.
The proposed technology based National Produce Traceability System is meant to build confidence on the Kenyan produce sold in the European markets by pre-empting regulatory action as producers take responsibility of failing to comply.
Following the increased interceptions at the European market for non-complying horticulture produce (flowers and vegetables), and locally heightened rejections by KEPHIS, the project will boost compliance and reassure the Euro market.
“We are paying attention to the national traceability system to ensure that we track the product to be able to trace back to the farmer in case there is a problem,” Ms Jane Ngige, Kenya Flowers Council (KFC) chief executive told journalists Wednesday.
Ms Ngige said the digital system will track production from planting to harvest and all the way to the market and faulty products could be withdrawn along the way.
“We will be checking for compliance at every step, for instance observing the pre-harvest interval which is the time between applying fertilizer and harvesting that is supposed to allow fertilizer to disintegrate to ensure low residual levels,” she said.
The flower industry is keen on netting 30 per cent of their annual sales from the European markets this valentine.
Although 2015 data is yet to be released, KFC says it will match the 136,000 tonnes which earned the country Sh54.6 billion in 2014.
Industry players are upbeat of a better performance in the horticulture and cut flowers this year on the back of a resolution with European market over minimum residual levels on exports.
In 2014 the EU gave Kenya an ultimatum to ensure all produce meant for the market should not contain more than 2 per cent of chemicals or herbicide sprayed on the crop or lose the Sh100 billion market.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service analytical chemistry laboratory was recently re-accredited by the South African National Accreditation Service to test produce destined for European markets.
However currency losses from a strong dollar pushing up the cost of inputs, erratic weather from the el Nino effect and slow remittance of VAT refunds from government continue to hurt the sector.