KENYA – World’s leading conservation organization World Wildlife Fund, has launched its first ever certified fresh farm produce shop in Naivasha dubbed ‘Vasha Green”, with the aim to help local farmers tap into the ever-growing demand for safe food products in the country.
In their efforts to preserve biodiversity, WWF kicked off the project in 2018 to empower the farmers to adopt best practices through proper and sustainable utilization of available limited resources.
Caroline Njiru, the Naivasha Landscape Programs Coordinator, said the project which had now been actualized, will enable farmers to have a ready market in turn increase their profit margins through market linkages.
Prior to the project, farmers in the region suffered up to 50% produce losses, she said. As such, the green shop will help them address post-harvest loss challenges as it also avails cold storage units.
Ms. Trixie Akinyi, Head of Performance Contracting at the Agriculture & Food Authority (AFA), said WWF in collaboration with the AFA and other stakeholders have trained farmers on various aspects of sustainable farming including sourcing for safe farm inputs, plant health and environmental sustainability that culminate into the production of safe food.
Thus far, 146 farmers have benefited from the program and have been awarded KS1758 certification, a standard for food safety issued by the Ministry of Agriculture after undergoing rigorous training.
Kenya Standard 1758:2016 (KS 1758) is a code of practice for the horticulture industry in Kenya which stipulates the hygienic and safety requirements during the production, handling and marketing of flowers and Ornamentals, fruits, vegetables and herbs.
Akinyi further revealed that the initiative was driven by the need to create and promote sustainable production and consumption practices in the country.
It seeks to take advantage of the structured market systems already in place like supermarkets to avert the short and long-term health hazards brought about by the consumption of unsafe food.
Akinyi added that the government through the ministry has put in place enough measures to safeguard the safety of food in the country, through training of farmers on the best farming practices and sensitization programs aimed at equipping them with the latest knowledge in matters of food production.
On his part, Mr. Cyprian Kabbis, Chief Executive Officer of Bureau Veritas Group, which was tasked with certification of all the 146 farmers, said the KS1758 mark of quality and code of practice will scale up compliance in issues dealing with plant health, food safety, workers` health and safety and environmental management for their produce.
He added that the local KS1758 mark of quality which is benchmarked and recognized on international standards will help farmers enhance market access locally and as well as increase their exports globally.