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Kenya launches Sh250m lab for testing fertiliser, seeds and GMOsqrcode

Nov. 24, 2017

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Deputy President William Ruto launches the laboratory complex constructed by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate and the European Union, November 22, 2017. /DPPS

Kenya's agricultural exports to the European markets are set to increase following the completion of a Sh250 million laboratory complex that will ensure international standards are met.

The facility unveiled on Wednesday will ensure fertilisers, seeds, soils and water are tested before farmers use them. It will also ensure healthy plants, safe trade and sustainable agro-environment for the development of the agricultural sector.

Deputy President William Ruto, while opening the laboratory complex constructed by Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate and the European Union, termed it a milestone.

He noted increasing public demand for quality and safe food worldwide.

Ruto said the complex will see to it that the country has good quality seeds, fertilisers and tested water and soils that will improve production for domestic and commercial purposes.

"The factory will help the government to access the international rules for seed, fertiliser and water testing that promote trade between Kenya and EU among other countries."

Addressing KEPHIS workers at their Karen office after the opening, the Deputy President added the project will lead to higher exports to European markets and others across the world.

"With this complex, KEPHIS will have the opportunity to ensure good quality seeds, fertilizers, tested soils and water that are beneficial to our farmers."

No GMO worries

The DP also said the laboratory will also test genetically modified foods and relieve Kenyans of fears associated with them.

Ruto asked exporters and farmers to use the facility to access new markets for their produce.

"The value of the laboratory will be measured by what we achieve in exporting food products and access to markets outside the country for our tea, coffee, flowers and other farm produce."

Ruto said the government's focus remains to develop the agricultural sector as it is key to the economy.

"We are putting more emphasis on the development of the agricultural sector, which remains the engine of economic growth, by coming up with initiatives aimed at adding value to farmers' produce."

The DP noted Kenya's economic transformation can be enhanced through industrialisation.

He said the government will continue to initiate reforms for the sector, especially in the fields of agro-processing, value addition and manufacturing.

Ruto said Kenya has partnered with Netherlands in the supply of potato seeds.

He said Kenya has imported 1.4 tonnes of these seeds from Netherlands and closed the gap that existed.

Horticultural sector growth

Hubert Perr, who is EU Delegation Head of Development and Cooperation, noted strong ties between Kenya and European countries saying they have helped Kenya meet international requirements in various fields.

"It's encouraging that KEPHIS has put in place measures to ensure high quality produce hits EU markets. It has also addressed non-tariff barriers for the sake of survival n world markets."

Perr said the union will continue working closely with the organisation to ensure more of its agricultural produce reaches markets.

Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe said the government was putting more emphasis on the development of the horticultural sector, which contributes eight per cent of the country's GDP.

"We are putting in place measures aimed at ensuring access to markets across the globe."

KEPHIS board chairperson Anne Muigai said the laboratory will address the problem of fake seeds supplied by unscrupulous business people.

"This laboratory will help our organisation ensure farmers are supplied with certified seeds."

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