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Kenya Launches Fresh Produce Standard- ‘KS 1758’

The main purpose of fresh produce standard is to assist farmers in adopting best agricultural practices to meet market demands, such as ensuring that produce arrives in markets with the same safety and quality, and to compensate them fairly for their efforts. It also considers worker safety and environmental sustainability.

Shivam Dwivedi
Launch of Fresh Produce Standard- ‘KS 1758’
Launch of Fresh Produce Standard- ‘KS 1758’

The Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) and the Retail Trade Association of Kenya (RETRAK) officially launched the KS 1758 Standard by awarding audit certificates to farms that participated in the program's pilot stage.

"Another watershed moment in the domestic fresh produce market!" We now have seven KS 1758 Part 2 farms. One of the seven is a farmer group with 146 members! RETRAK rejoiced in a tweet, "We are finally on the road to implementation on the farms, standard is out of the boardrooms and into the farms."

Bureau Veritas, the independent agency hired for the job, conducted the audit. Through the KS 1758 Standard Implementation Committee (SIC), AFA has been collaborating with other government agencies, the private sector, and development partners to ensure that certification to the KS 1758 standard by local producers and food business operators takes off.

RETRAK Chief Executive Officer Wambui Mbarire stated during the launch that the country is now well on its way to developing a more resilient and sustainable food production ecosystem, which is expected to improve both food safety and food security.

KS1758 was developed last July by agricultural private sector stakeholders, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS). It outlines the processes, inputs, and considerations that will go into ensuring the safety of fresh produce that ends up on retail shelves in the domestic market.

It is intended to assist farmers in adopting best agricultural practices to meet market demands, such as ensuring that produce arrives in markets with the same safety and quality, and to compensate them fairly for their efforts. It also considers worker safety and environmental sustainability.

Mbarire explained that, with food playing a central role in public health outcomes and wellness becoming a major lifestyle phenomenon, Kenyans have become more health-conscious in recent years, and it is incumbent on food producers to meet their modern tastes and food quality demands.

"KS1758 fills a significant gap in our country that previously exposed our citizens to an unaudited supply of food in terms of quality and safety."

"The Quality Mark indicates that the food on that shelf has passed the KS1758 integrity test." "Within a short time, consumers will be able to identify products that meet the necessary health, environmental, and sustainability criteria," Mbarire predicted.

She went on to say that this will entail a significant shift away from small individual farming and toward more collective farmer groups, resulting in centralized access to production inputs, enforcing labour and environmental practices, stabilizing farm gate prices, and developing consistent markets for farm produce.

It will also entail the development of structured handling, storage, and transportation mechanics. Finally, it hopes to contribute to the implementation of food traceability, a mechanism for follow-up if customers are dissatisfied with a particular product.

"As the retail industry, the issue of consumer awareness is high on our agenda, and it is critical that the food value chain participants measure up to the national drive to achieve a modicum of food safety standardization," she said.

Mbarire noted that in developing the new food safety code, Kenya focused on nearly 90% of agricultural produce consumed locally, compared to 10% or so that is exported. According to Gideon Aliero, Chairman of the National Standards Implementation Committee, KS1758 conforms to international standards such as GlobalGAP.

"For many years, our food safety standards were pegged on international ones due to a strong focus on export markets, despite the fact that less than 10% of Kenya's total fresh produce is exported," he explained.

The new safety code has also been implemented in Mombasa's Kongowea market, beginning with mchicha, a popular traditional vegetable along the coast. It will also be implemented in hotels, restaurants, and other open-air markets. Belmont Farm of Beyond Fruits Limited, based in Kiambu County, became the first farm to receive KS 1758 Certification a few weeks ago.

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