KENYA – Belmont Farm of Beyond Fruits Limited from Limuru, Kiambu County, has emerged the first company in the country to be KS1758 certified, following a successful implementation of farm to fork safety measures.
In July 2021, the Agriculture Ministry launched KS1758, a code of practice for the horticulture industry in Kenya which stipulates the hygienic and safety requirements during the production, handling and marketing of fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices.
Speaking during the issuance of the certificate to the company yesterday, Principal Secretary, State Department of Livestock in the Ministry of Agriculture Harry Kimtai, explained that the standard is an all-round encompassing area of fresh produce namely plant health, food safety, environmental sustainability and worker health, safety and social accountability.
“The KS1758 is a very important mark developed to ensure our produce both meet local and international standards. I want to urge farmers to partner with other off takers so that they are able to produce their food in accordance with regulations.
“This will not only see them fetch better prices for their produce but it will also lead to better income for returns and investment,” he said.
He applauded the Belmont Farm for pioneering the successful implementation of KS1758 the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC) for liaising with the company. He also commended the) through the Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems (KCDMS), for the financial support.
“Belmont Farm took the risk to support farmers to produce crops in a way that is acceptable and this is the way to go. We need others to emulate them and ensure that we have suppliers producing in accordance to standards and as a country we will be proud to say we are producing safe food,” the PS noted.
Beyond Fruits Limited, was backed by a five-year United States Agency for International Development (USAID) programme -Kenya Crops and Dairy Market System activity (KCDMS) through FPC to implement the KS1758 standard on its 12-acre Belmont Farm in Limuru as well as its farm to market logistics.
In order to support the standards, Kimtai said that the Ministry of Agriculture together with the Health Ministry have jointly developed a food policy to regulate and bring all competent authorities together.
He added that the challenge the market has been facing was the many competent authorities within the government regulating different sectors, as reported by Kenya News Agency.
“Now what we want is that when it comes to produce from farmers, it is all done in a coordinated manner,” he explained.
The PS said that the government has also developed food and feed coordination bill that will bring together one coordinator to synchronize all competent authorities to ensure food produced in different sectors meets the food standards and applied across board.
“We want all our food in terms of produce be safe from farm to fork, thus handled safely until it reaches the tables of the consumers and this is how critical the government policy and legal frameworks have been produced to support the private sector as they engage farmers to apply the mark of KS1758,” Kimtai said.
Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC) has been mobilizing local producers of fresh commodities to acquire KS1758 with a view to ensuring consumers enjoy quality products based on the current changing dynamics in the market.
Beyond Fruits Limited, a new member of Fresh and Juici Group started in 2017 to cater for the Kenyan Retail market with fresh fruits and vegetables is the first food value chain to be licensed in May this year with a KS1758 certificate.
Horticulture sub-sector is a major category within the agriculture sector, with 201 different types of crops, which accounts for 80 per cent of the total crop being grown in this Country.
According to a 2020 report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), the sub sector which is a key contributor to food and nutrition security, continues to register an annual growth rate of about 15 per cent.
In 2021, the sub sector generated Ksh158 billion (USD 1,343,613,514) from export of flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs and spices, says the report.