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Kenya: Farmers Will Benefit From Fresh Vegetable Shop With Organic Certification

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The first-ever certified fresh farm produce store in Naivasha, known as “Vasha Green,” has opened with the goal of assisting local farmers in meeting the nation’s rising demand for healthy food goods.

The project, which began in 2018, is intended to reduce poverty and create jobs while simultaneously encouraging environmental conservation, according to Caroline Njiru, the WWF’s Naivasha Landscape Programs Coordinator.

Njiru noted that poor agricultural methods pose a threat to biodiversity, but added that WWF, who is supporting the initiative, aims to encourage the farmers to adopt best practices through the proper and sustainable use of the little resources at their disposal.

According to Ms. Njiru, the initiative, which is now a reality, would allow farmers to have a ready market and cold storage produce, increasing their profit margins through market links in the process.

She mentioned that, in the past, the majority of farmers in the area lost 50% of their food before it reached the market and said that the green shop will assist them in overcoming post-harvest loss difficulties.

According to Ms. Trixie Akinyi, head of performance contracting at the Agriculture & Food Authority (AFA), WWF has trained farmers on various facets of sustainable farming, including sourcing for safe farm inputs, plant health, and environmental sustainability that ultimately lead to the production of safe food.

She stated that the project is a significant step forward in the pursuit of sustainable living and food safety.

So far, 146 farmers have profited from the initiative and received the KS1758 certification, which they were required to complete in order to meet the Ministry of Agriculture’s strict training requirements.

A code of conduct known as Kenya Standard 1758:2016 (KS 1758) establishes the hygiene and safety regulations for the production, processing, and marketing of flowers, ornaments, fruits, vegetables, and herbs in Kenya.

Akinyi added that the initiative was motivated by the need to develop and advance sustainable production and consumption practices in the nation. It aims to benefit from the established, well-structured market systems, such as supermarkets, in order to avoid the immediate and long-term health risks associated with the consumption of unwholesome food.

She continued by saying that the government, through the ministry, has put in place sufficient safeguards to ensure the safety of food in the nation, including programs to educate farmers about modern food production techniques and train them in best farming practices.

According to Mr. Cyprian Kabbis, Chief Executive Officer of Bureau Veritas Group, which was tasked with certifying all 146 farmers, the KS1758 mark of quality and code of practice will increase compliance in matters relating to plant health, food safety, workers’ health and safety, and environmental management for their produce.

The local KS1758 mark of quality, which is benchmarked and acknowledged by international standards, would aid farmers in improving local market access as well as growing their exports internationally, he continued.

Mr. Ian Edewa, the head consultant for Global Link Agriculture, urged farmers to adopt safe farming practices while also emphasizing proper handling and disposal of agricultural chemical waste management. He cited the use of unregulated pesticides as a threat to the sector’s sustainability.

The project, according to farmer and program beneficiary John Maina, has filled the vacuum left by the absence of an appropriate and ready market for their produce.

As hotels in Naivasha will now be purchasing fresh farm goods from the recently opened Vasha green shop, Maina added that farmers’ livelihoods have undergone significant transformation as a result of the program.

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