Farmers in 12 counties to benefit from Sh400m EU fund

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Farmers in 12 counties to benefit from Sh400m EU fund

The European Union (EU) will spend 3.7m (Sh425.5m) to address supply and market access constrains in several agricultural value chains.

This will be done through a project dubbed Market Access Upgrade Programme (MARKUP) Kenya  which will be implemented by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) in 12 counties across the country.

The four-year project was launched on October 29, at a Nairobi hotel in a morning event that brought together agricultural stakeholders.

The MARKUP Programme aims to enhance market access and competitiveness of Kenya’s plant-based products through the adoption of relevant international standards and improved food-safety regulation and enforcement in Kenya.

Under the project, small scale farmers and Small-Medium Enterprices  will receive capacity building along selected value chains. These value chains include green beans, snow peas, chilies, mango, passion fruits, macadamia, ground nuts, herbs and spices.

In addition, services provided by national institutions such as the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) will be strengthened. This will ensure that all the agricultural exports meet the market requirements for both the export and domestic markets and are safe for public consumption.

“This program will benefit stakeholders across the target value chains, including farmers, traders, government institutions,” says Myra Bernardi, EU’s head of Section, Agriculture, Job Creation and Resilience.

This project,  she notes, is aimed at increasing the quality and quantity of agricultural exports as well as expanding markets within the country and in the East African region.

The project will also focus on creating awareness on non-tariff barriers to international trade and work with Kenyan institutions to address sanitary and phytosanitary barriers to trade.

“We are looking at increasing market access for high value products and benefit not only stakeholders along the value chains, but people across the country,” says Myra

It is targeted to benefit about 1,500 farmers directly, and many more indirectly, according to UNIDO’s programs manager for agribusiness department.

“If we work with 100 farmers in a particular county for example, it will spill over to other farmers in the neighbourhood,” say Yvonne

While there will be focus for the export market especially the EU, this project will enhance standards locally too.

This is especially because stakeholders will be producing for the export as well as local market.

“If an importer wants a specific shape of a produce for example, those that are not of the same shape will be sold in the local market, but the standards will be of international level,” notes Yvonne

The project will therefore play a key role in not only enhancing the food security and improving livelihoods in line with the government’s big four agenda.

In a bid to ensure young people are included in the project, youths will be reached out in training so that they understand the right standards for the targeted value chains.

Dr Andrew Edewa, MARKUP Kenya National coordinator says ICT technologies will be employed, and will be attractive especially among young people.

In collaboration with the relevant counties, Edewa adds, extension officers will be trained as they are the ones who reach out to farmers at farm levels.