By Murimi Gitari, 13 November 2020
Horticulture stakeholders have come to the defence of the country against claims on failure to curb use of harmful chemicals on production of major export crops.
Speaking on 11th November during a media briefing on the state of the avocado industry in Kenya, the CEO of Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), Hosea Machuki and his counterpart Okiseger Ojepat of the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC) said that producers in the country are using only registered pesticides on crops by adhering to the strict measures on the use oof pesticides for export crops.
Okisegere said they have consolidated the horticulture industry which is the only industry that has remained proactive and resilient over time to time. According to Okisegere, the sector has managed to remain robust even during this period of Covid.
“What we are insisting here is we have systems, we grow our avocados and our fresh produce in an ethical way and therefore this negative publicity we have seen in the recent past needs to stop,” Okisegere said.
In his remarks, Mr Hosea Machuki said Kenya is competing with other countries that are ahead of it.
“We want to say as a country we will continue to grow more avocados, improve the quality so that we may rise up from number eight to number one,” he said.
Hosea, who was addressing the issue in the avocado suspension supply in US also said the horticulture industry in Kenya is committed to stand up for the key principles of ethical business and human rights as laid down by the United Nations and espoused by Kenya.
The briefing by the stakeholders to defend the sector came at a time when a recent study by Kenyatta University Researchers revealead that Kenyans could be consuming toxic pesticides on their meals everyday.
According to the study, producers could be harvesting their produce, especially tomatoes before the pesticides used on the crops have cleared. It also shows how farmers are overusing chemicals and harvesting vegetables prematurely before these pesticides decay.
However, FPEAK and FPC have stood their ground and defend the sector on such claims arguing that farmers and producers are strictly adhering to the measures by ensuring they use chemicals responsibly and using only registered chemicals in Kenya.
On the state of the avocado industry in Kenya, the stakeholders said the key to the success of the sector is in the use of the latest technology, availability of technical training and easier access to markets.
To enhance the quality of produce, industry associations and other players have trained and supported producers and exporters on requirements for international accreditations on food safety and traceability.
“As a sector we are faced by a number of challenges but we are committed to addressing these challenges. We have effective oversight bodies to ensure that our producers are fully compliant with all market requirements and we are also working with international regulation bodies to ensure our standards are aligned to these requirements,” Okisegere said.