Kenya to start exporting French beans to the US

April 23, 2012
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A tractor ploughs a field in readiness for planting/XINHUA
NAIROBI, Kenya, April 23 – Kenya will soon start exporting French beans and Snow peas to the United States after the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services, KEPHIS successfully negotiated with the American government.

Managing Director James Onsando said on Monday that the deal was sealed last month and KEPHIS was now in the process of notifying the producers and other stakeholders on the conditions.

“We negotiated with the American regulatory agency, doing what we call a pest risk analysis together and convincing the American government that the risk can be mitigated and because of that we have opened a whole new market which will be effective any time now,” he said noting that currently the European Union was the largest market for Kenyan fresh produce.

He added that they were also working to nurture the regional markets like South Africa and Egypt.

Export of fresh produce earned Kenya about Sh914 billion ($1.1 billion) last year, which according to Onsando, was significant income for the economy. He attributed it to the confidence in the market that Kenyan produce meets the quality requirement.

“A lot will depend on how the producers and exporters manage the requirements. The Kenyan French beans and Snow peas are one of the best in terms of quality, if the producers and exporters manage the process, the volumes will grow,” he said.

At the same time, KEPHIS has identified the strange disease that has killed maize crop in Bomet as leaf stripe of maize.

Onsando said the disease which started attacking maize crop in the area last month starts with chlorosis and drying up of the upper leaves and the drying progresses downwards.

“It has fortunately not moved to the neighbouring districts,” he stated.

“It was worsened by drought so it appeared much more serious than it would have done if the maize was grown into rain season, infestation of stem borers, thrips damage, maize streak virus and varietal differences,” Onsando explained.

Bomet MP Beatrice Kones had earlier this month raised a question in Parliament on what the government was doing to save farmers in the area from further loss.

Onsando said the disease could be managed through seed dressing, planting maize when the rains commence to remove the drought stress and crop rotation with grass crops after every two seasons to reduce the disease level in the soil.

“This disease was again seen in the mid 1980s but in a very small area in Coast province. In Bomet, the extent is quite big but we have not measured it. The people to measure that is KARI (Kenya Agricultural Research Institute) but as regulators who have the mandate of disease and pest levels in Kenya, we have at least tried to pin it down,” he told Journalists after the opening a five-day workshop on application of commercial quality standards for fruits and vegetables in Eastern Africa.

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