REPORTS FROM THE
tech helps farmers
retain E.U. vegetable market
European Union is Kenya’s biggest market for
vegetables grown by large and small scale farmers
REPORT BY XINHUA Correspondent
(Xinhua) -- Kenya’s
small scale farmers hit by the European Union’s
stringent food safety issues arising from high
agrochemical residue levels have now turned to using
tunnel greenhouses that do not require use of much
chemicals and offer better vegetable yields.
European Union is Kenya’s biggest market for
vegetables grown by large and small scale farmers. The
bloc imports about 90 percent of all vegetables
destined for export.
stringent food safety standards over high agrochemical
residue was traced to produce sourced from small scale
farmers, leading many exporters to drop the as produce
effect, combined with rising cost of growing the
vegetables because of the increase in prices of farm
inputs and reduced demand because of the eurozone
crisis have knocked-out some farmers from growing the
vegetables for export, leading to drop in the amount
of vegetables Kenya exports to the European Union.
to the Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP),
a project that helps small scale farmers increase
production of horticulture crops, the sector has
experienced tough times in 2012 due to a rapid rise in
production costs, depressed prices in the major
European markets and lack of procurement discipline by
farmers and exporters.
factors affecting the sector have been the
vulnerability of crops grown in open fields facing
drought, excessive rainfall, and pests and diseases,
which limit crop yields and quality.
from KHCP indicates that overall exports of vegetables
primarily peas and beans declined by 2.6 percent from
379 million U.S. dollars in 2011 to 369 million
dollars in 2012.
recent months, however, the situation has worsened.
The European Union has increased the level of
surveillance checks due to the perception of
increased food safety issues from agrochemical
residue levels,” said KHCP in its latest update
received on Wednesday.
a result, Kenyan exporters have moved away from
smallholder sourcing, and Kenyan exports have declined
instance, bean sales have dropped by 25 percent in
January 2013 compared to January 2012, according to
the Fresh Produce and Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK).
said it has partnered with FPEAK to respond with a
program of enabling farmers acquire and use tunnel
green houses as part of farm infrastructure
are being trained at the Horticulture Practical
Training Center (PTC) in Thika, about 50 km north of
the capital Nairobi.
support for PTC’s vegetable, fruit nursery, and
flower units is delivering skills training to 15,000
farmers over the next two years.
additional 50,000 farmers are being trained on
agrochemical compliance to international standards in
good agricultural practices through a network of eight
“Mini-PTCs” across the country.
project has also partnered with Vegpro (K) Ltd, a
major exporter of vegetables, fruits, and flowers to
Europe. Through this partnership, Vegpro is rolling
out greenhouse tunnels and drip irrigation trials in
pea production for 600 contracted outgrowers around
the Mt. Kenya region.
tunnels, which minimize the usage of agrochemicals and
increase the crop life cycle, have shown average yield
increase of 48 percent compared to open field
98 percent of the crop grown under the 0.98 hectare
tunnel was marketable, compared to only 15 percent of
the crop grown in open fields due to damage from
hailstorms and disease infection.
tunnel generated an average gross income of 384
dollars compared to only 40 dollars from the open
accelerate the adoption of the tunnel technology, KHCP
is working closely with the U.S. Agency for
International Development’s Financial Inclusion for
Rural Microenterprises (FIRM) project to map the best
options for finance packages suited to farmer’s cash
intention is to increase smallholders’ ability to
compete in the global marketplace while helping the
Kenyan vegetable export industry get back on track
during the second half of the year.
Maingi, a vegetable farmer in Thika who is contracted
by an export company said the tunnel greenhouse is the
answer to the challenges they have been facing growing
vegetables in the open field.
are fewer requirements for chemicals, manure and the
crops are shielded from direct rainfall and sunlight.
Insects that affect the vegetable crops are also
minimized when tunnel greenhouse is used.
don’t have to be persuaded about this greenhouse
technology. I have witnessed with about their
importance and value. Through the tunnels, I’m
earning ten times more compared to the open field,
“ she said.
is expected to start exporting vegetable variety of
French beans to the U.S. by November this year when
necessary sanitary measures are expected to be in
place following U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
approval of the deal early this year.
2012, Kenya exported vegetables worth 164 million
dollars, according to FPEAK.
you read it first at coastweek.com