KEPSA Agriculture sector board in partnership with the Society of Crop Agribusiness Advisors (SOCAA) organized a half day workshop for producers and traders on Export Promotion and Development concentrating on standards and safety issues on 31st May 2019 at KEPSA Offices. The training engaged participants from the private sector with facilitation from the State Department for Trade, Kenya Bureau of Standards and KENTRADE.
In his opening remarks Rikki Aguda, CEO SOCAA briefed members on SOCAA’s support to agriculture professionals geared towards making a difference in the agriculture sector. Rikki appreciated SOCAA’s partnership with KEPSA, State Department for Trade, Kenya Bureau of Standards and KENTRADE in driving the food safety agenda in the country.
In her remarks Ms. Rose Mongare, Assistant Director International Trade appreciated KEPSA and SOCAA for their continued interest in Sanitary & Phytosanitary standards (SPS) management. She highlighted challenges in management of Food Safety including Mycotoxin contaminations e.g. Aflatoxin: which can result in fatal food poisoning (especially for maize, ground nuts etc.), Post-harvest losses, risk of rift valley fever and risks arising from trans-boundary diseases affecting both plants and animals. At present she observed that the biggest challenge facing the country was the fall armyworm which is destroying maize, our main staple food. The Fall Armyworm is resistant to many registered pesticides; hence it’s not only a health risk but a major threat to food security globally.
In terms of awareness and capacity, Ms. Mongare underscored the relatively low private sector awareness on SPS issues, in particular food safety measures during (1) pre-planting;( choice of fertilizers which can affect the yield levels and sustainability of arable land); (2) Planting; -nature of seeds/feeds to use can affect quality of beef, fish; (3) Harvesting– awareness on maximum residue levels (MRLS) for specific chemicals and minerals; (4) Warehousing & transportation and packaging – affect safety and shelf life
Rose informed the meeting that there are concerted efforts by the government to address the challenges; however deeper private sector involvement and cooperation was welcome. Efforts by the government of Kenya include:
- Ongoing review of the legal and regulatory environment to strengthen the management of food safety;
- Establishment of the Multi-Agency Task Force on Anti-Illicit Trade: to curb production, distribution, importation and or sale of illicit goods which are often sub-standard and pose threats to food safety;
- Establishment of a multi-agency framework for management of food and cosmetics; integrating the efforts of various competent authorities such as KEPHIS, KEBS; Ministry of Health (Food safety Unit) conducting joint verification exercises and surveillance.
- Kenya continues to harmonize its national standards with the EAC regional standards on Food and additives as well as adoption of international standards.
- Continued cooperation with the global community on management of SPS e.g. at the Geneva based WTO-SPS Committee; exchanging ideas, knowledge in addressing the emerging threats such as containing the fall army warm. Supporting bilateral negotiations and cooperation in SPS management; including Agreeing to new SPS protocols and receiving technical assistance e.g. knowledge transfer.
During the meeting a presentation was made by Mr. Geoffrey Odero from National SPS Committee secretariat on the Significance of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) measures to trade. It was noted that SPS was beneficial to the private sector as a way to gaining Market Access, it encourages core competency, promotes safe Trade, helps in consumer right protection and preventive health measures.
Members were sensitized of the Main Provisions of the SPS Agreements as stipulated by WTO which states that any measure instituted by a country must be based on scientific evidence and risk assessment, avoid creating unjustified barriers or create any restrictions in international trade.
Ms. Lucy Ikonya, Trade Affairs Manager, Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) sensitized Members on the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) as per the WTO-TBT agreement. Through its TBT National Enquiry Point KEBS has been disseminating WTO TBT notifications through a bi-monthly publication. Members were informed of a new proposal by EU to regulate pesticides on hazard-based criteria as opposed to the WTO recommended risk – based criteria a move that threatens to negatively affect the business of the Agrochemicals companies in the country as they use endocrine disruptors as key ingredients. In terms of challenges KEBS identified limited feedback from the private sector on TBT, delayed communication from regulatory agencies, inadequate resources both human and capital.
Ms. Jane Musyoki, KENTRADE sensitized members on the role of KENTRADE in international Trade Facilitation. She informed members of the key attributes of the single window environment and the watch list screening system.
In conclusion it was agreed that KEPSA, SOCAA the State Department for Trade, Kenya Bureau of Standards and KENTRADE would organize additional trainings to enhance the capacity of private sector members to respond to WTO agreements on SPS and TBT.