East African fruit and vegetable value chains will be improved thanks to a Ksh 205.5 million contribution from the International Centre for Evaluation and Development (ICED) and the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture (ILH). With the goal of enhancing the horticultural value chain to raise profits for smallholder farmers and improve exports, the funds will be used to support three research projects in the area.
Despite horticulture sector being a major source of income and nutrition for many households in the East Africa region, the sector continues to face challenges along the value chain such as phytosanitary, a factor that has effectively locked Kenya from accessing international markets.
“The research we are giving in East Africa. We have now commissioned about three researches to the tune of $1.5M (Ksh 205.5) for the next three years. That is what the ILH is putting in East Africa and we have about three researches that have approved in Kenya, Uganda and one that cuts across the two countries,” said David Ameyaw, ICED Chief Executive Officer.
The new horticulture project in East Africa which is funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by ICED and ILH also seeks to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers across East Africa.
“In horticulture crops we really believe that it is an incredible entry point for small scale farmers to increase their livelihoods and nutrition. It is also an excellent entry point for specifically for women, youth and other marginalized population and we know vegetable are critical for health both from an adult perspective and also diversifying diet for the children,” said Erin McGuire, Associate Director Lab for Horticulture.
In March this year an avocado consignment destined for the Denmark market was flagged due to high residue levels.
The interception came after a cut flower consignment was also intercepted in the European Union due to pest concerns this year, threatening a sector that netted the country Ksh 156 billion in exports last year.
“There is a pest called false codling moth in roses that is of phytosanitary concern to the EU market and therefore the market is raising concern on this particular pest. We are working with the private sector to ensure that phytosanitary pests are minimized by introducing treatment for flowers so that we better manage the insects and of course the capacity building required at the farm level to ensure the interceptions are minimized,” said Josephine Simiyu, Agriculture and Food Authority Head of Regulations and Compliance at the Horticulture Crops Directorate.
The project’s activities will involve local research institutions, county governments, private sectors, traders, and women’s groups.
The goal of this collaborative project is to increase productivity, profitability, and consumption of horticultural produce in the rural areas.