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Kenyans launch new system to track horticultural products

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has launched a national electronic platform to support management and sharing of critical supply chain data to increase transparency and visibility of horticulture.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett launched the National Horticulture Traceability System (HTS) that will make it possible for any shipment that does not comply with market standards to be traced back to the source on arrival in the export market.

“This is a breakthrough. We had a difficult time in horticulture rejections at our export zones and airports. I am happy this problem will be resolved with the launch of this system,” Bett said during the launch in Nairobi late on Thursday.

Occasionally, shipments of horticulture products are found to be substandard when they arrive at their destinations overseas.

The cloud-based HTS system can track each of these shipments back to their source, thus allowing the Kenyan grower to make the corrections necessary to ensure future products meet market standards.

Bett said the horticulture traceability system ensures accurate collection, analysis and exchange of critical supply chain data from production to distribution.

He said the system is critical at a time Kenya is facing a sharp decline in the multibillion-shilling export horticulture industry. The export market earned Kenya about 1 billion U.S. dollars in foreign exchange annually.

The system includes a mobile application to capture and upload information at the farm and a web reporting portal for central data storage and sharing.

It also involves a labeling system that produces quick reference codes that can be read using a mobile phone with a reader.

“The system will not be applied on export products only. We will also use it for products meant for local consumption... because we are also concerned with what our people eat,” Bett said.

Recently, some Kenyan suppliers have faced challenges complying with EU and international food safety requirements.  The launch of the system comes when the European Union began mandatory pesticide inspections, leading to rejection of some of Kenya’s horticultural products.

Kenya Fresh Produce Association chair Apollo Owuor said the traceability system will be key in signaling that Kenya has addressed the issue of safety standards.

Owuor said more than 500,000 farmers under the umbrella body were working with the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and the Kenya Flower Council to ensure horticulture remains a leading foreign exchange earner.



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