Keeping Kenyan roses and chillies safe from pests necessary for acceptance in the European market
The danger of rejection of whole consignments of produce by export markets is a nightmare that continues to plague two of Kenya’s key horticultural crops — roses and chillies — owing to the presence of the False Codling Moth (FCM).
This tiny pest with a big name, Thaumatotibia leucotreta, has today become every grower’s and exporter’s biggest dread, with the European Union raising its level of inspections and consequently interceptions of consignments. This has tainted Kenya’s image, resulted in losses, and endangered the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and workers.
To mitigate the risk, the Kenya Flower Council (KFC) Technical Committee, with the support of the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) published a protocol for the management of FCM in roses and chillies in Kenya in 2019.
Photo Credit: Douglas Okiddy
These organisations are at the forefront of addressing FCM and the technical teams of FPEAK, the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) and KFC have just completed training on the FCM protocol implementation to be passed onto 20 farms which have had repeated interceptions, over the next three months.
“FCM management requires an integrated approach across all stages of the value chain and the involvement of all stakeholders, to ensure the Kenyan chilli exporters and growers are not put out of business,” said FPC Kenya chief executive officer Okisegere Ojepat.
Billions in exports
About 2 billion roses are exported from Kenya to The Netherlands, where they are sold at the flower auction and flower importers. This is nearly one-third of all roses sold in the European Union (EU) and 70 per cent of Kenya’s produce. The stakes are therefore high.
The year 2019 saw 1,286,412 kilos of chilies exported at Ksh 244,684,534 while in 2020, 1,980,395.70 kilos of chilies were exported at Ksh 553,563,058.
“Anything that happens in Europe has a direct and immediate impact on what we do,” said Clement Tulezi, CEO of KFC.
New pests and plant diseases
Training on FCM protocols is continuous. In 2019. KEPHIS, the KFC, and The Netherlands government joined efforts in training inspectors and scouts, as well as rose growers. The EU’s aim is to stop the introduction and spread of new pests and plant diseases, thereby reducing or eliminating the economic and/or environmental impact of the harmful organisms and reducing the need for pesticide use. To further assist rose growers to identify the pests on their farm, The Netherlands Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) have designed a poster that farmers can print to train their personnel and increase awareness.
FCM is a threat to many flowers, fruits, vegetables and other crops. Because of this, in 2017 FCM was given quarantine status in the European Union (EU). Currently, European countries are therefore obligated to inspect 10 per cent of the roses coming in from Kenya for FCM. The EU sets the percentage of inspections based on the number of quarantine pests found, of which one is the FCM. The Netherlands is by far the largest importer of roses from Kenya. Increased inspections will thus affect the trade flow between Kenya and The Netherlands.
Download FCM Poster courtesy of Dutch Embassy for your use
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