New traceability system helps Kenyan growers improve products

United States Government and the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Fisheries, in collaboration with the horticulture exporters Associations of Kenya have developed an online National Horticulture Traceability System (HTS). 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.

The HTS system was developed with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Feed the Future Initiative. Recently, some Kenyan suppliers have faced challenges complying with EU and international food safety requirements. HTS provides a new, powerful tool to help them overcome these barriers and get their products to market, thus protecting Kenya’s $888 billion in annual horticulture exports.

The system was developed over the last 18 months with the help of twelve export companies and 1,460 smallholders in ten counties. It includes a mobile app for registering farmers and capturing routine farm operations, a website where stakeholders can share information, and a barcode and Quick Reference (QR) code printing system. The HTS is unique to Kenya, and customized for a smallholder-based export industry. It can accommodate up to one million farmers.

At the launch of the National Horticulture Traceability System September 8, USAID’s Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future Dr. Beth Dunford said, “The U.S. is proud to partner with Kenya on food security and nutrition efforts through the U.S. Government's Feed the Future initiative, and we’re encouraged by the progress we’ve achieved together. Innovations like this traceability technology, and the partnerships that make them possible, are critical to building a more food-secure future."

The HTS uses GPS technology to identify the exact source of a shipment and generate online production and handling reports required by the market. Deployment of the HTS will increase market confidence and safeguard more than 2.5 million Kenyan smallholder farmers and workers involved in horticulture export. The system will increase the competitiveness of Kenya’s horticulture exports and allow for the rapid response to food safety risks by identifying, isolating, and rectifying non-compliant products. It will also expedite the response to pest and disease early warning alerts by clearly identifying affected areas. The HTS system puts Kenya at the leading edge of country exporting horticulture products.

Source: Embassy of the United States, Nairobi

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