The Kenya Horticulture Development Project (KHDP), funded by USAID and managed by Fintrac, Inc., was established in October 2003 and is being implemented during a four-year period. The aim of the project is to provide assistance to the fresh and processed food sector in Kenya. It provides marketing, postharvest handling, processing and agronomic support for smallholders and allied agribusinesses.
The KHDP is headquartered in Nairobi and has fully equipped mobile field offices staffed with highly trained agronomists. These agronomists have complete agronomic laboratories, mobile computers, cameras and telephones to provide technical support in the field. The field offices are located in the main horticultural regions of Thika, Eldoret, Nanyuki and Mombasa. The placement of the field offices emphasizes KHDP's commitment to work in marginal areas where smallholders have received little assistance on horticultural crops and techniques. The project targets six product categories in its current work plan: Passion Fruit (fresh and processed), chili products (fresh, processed and dried), vanilla and spices, smallholder flowers, tree crops for processing (cashew and mango) and local market vegetables (onions, carrots, cabbage, tomato and indigenous vegetables). The program provides support to the fresh and processed food sector encompassing three main strategic areas: EUREPGAP/SPS, New Product Development and Domestic Market Intervention. Crosscutting activities such as marketing services, policy interventions, environmental management and promotion of gender equality are also targeted.
The training and certification process for EUREPGAP began in May 2004. HDC continues to work through partner fund agreements with exporters such as Indu Farms, East African Growers, VegPro and Greenlands to help them attain EUREPGAP certification. Agreements have been established with major exporters who currently obtain products from outgrowers for export. The project also has identified smallholder groups that have been provided with safe use training and agreements also have been signed with service providers including Real IPM, Millennium and Global Crop Protection.
Even though the deadline for attaining EUREPGAP certification was Jan. 1, 2005, allowances have been made to accommodate smallholder farmers and individual buyers can choose to do business with non-EUREPGAP productions. Nevertheless, all producers who wish to continue exporting to European retailers must make some move toward EUREPGAP compliance in the immediate future.
In addition to EUREPGAP, all growers are faced with new European Union (EU) legislation on chemical traceability and Maximum Residue Levels (MRLs). Although this does not require auditing or overall changes in farm practices, it does require that all growers know and conform to specified lists of crop/chemical applications and Pre-harvest Intervals (PHIs) approved by the EU.
The New Product Development Program helps the Kenyan horticultural industry diversify product range. Currently, there is little diversification of products and exports have tended to be in relatively few crop areas. Traditionally, these are cut roses, French beans, peas and avocadoes. The country has unlimited potential for developing new products that are competitive on the world market. To achieve this, thirty demonstration plots are being established for several products. New crops continuously targeted include vanilla, paprika, African "bird's eye chili", papaya, hybrid "jumbo" passion fruit, mangoes (for processing), and the extraction of essential oils.
The Domestic Market Intervention Program addresses growth in domestic demand for fresh and processed products. In particular, the smallholders flower program, and local market vegetables benefit from this intervention. The target set for this year is the establishment of at least 50 demonstration plots for vegetables including onion, garlic, sukuma wiki (kale), cabbages, potatoes, bananas and tomatoes. The goal of the local market vegetable program is to increase production and improve reliability of supply and quality. In addition, a number of flower varieties including Ornithogalum sps , Eryngium, Moby Dick (Aesclepia sp ), Carthamus, Mollucella, Amy Majus, Calla lilies, Tuberose and Agapanthus are suitable for smallholders and have been selected. Also, new varieties are being developed. A smallholder partnership agreement has been signed to allow project beneficiaries to access supplies needed to increase productivity. Through these interventions, income from domestic sales should increase by at least $4 million.
In addition, the project is implementing the Business Development Services (BDS) component by forming alliances with local BDS providers. This allows Fintrac to provide additional extension services and improve support, as well as ongoing price analysis and market information. Working with U.S. agencies that affect policy, educating smallholders and partners about good agricultural practices, and environmental management are other key crosscutting activities. The project is also focusing on meeting targets for women's participation to improve gender equality.