Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD): Setting the rules in the industry

Wed, Jun 30, 2021

The directorate uses specific strategies to enhance trade and exports

With so many organizations and stakeholders crowding the horticultural industry, it may be difficult for many to recognize who, exactly, calls the tune in this important sector of the economy. That role, without doubt, is reserved for the Horticultural Crops Directorate (HCD).

The directorate is a government regulatory agency that promotes, develops, regulates and coordinates the horticultural industry — which encompasses fruits, flowers and vegetables. HCD facilitates the industry through licensing and application of rules as well as providing advisory services to the government and industry for planning purposes. The directorate is under the Agriculture and Food Authority, with the parent ministry being the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

The directorate coordinates its activities through 23 regional offices to support producers comply with market requirements through specialised advisory services, guiding traceability and monitoring their crops for maturity.

The directorate also enforces the local standard (KS1758) that is benchmarked against international standards.

Meeting International Standards

The Director of HCD, Benjamin Tito, says Kenyan growers are increasingly keen to meet international standards on food safety, quality, traceability, environmental management and the occupational health and safety of workers. “Large and small-holder farms and export companies adhere to Good Agricultural Practices and are certified against various internationally recognized standards and codes of practice. Notable among these are GLOBALGAP, KS 1758, and organic certifications.”

The current level of certification across the industry provides the market with confidence in consuming products from Kenya, since they have been grown in a safe and sustainable manner.

HCD Pack houses include cold storage funded by the Japanese government.

Regulatory Activities

The directorate regulates the sector through registration of all marketing agents; licensing of exporters; verification of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP’s) and traceability systems; enhancing compliance to quality of exportable fruits to the EU through qualitative and quantitative analysis; and enhancing compliance to food safety, food hygiene and traceability through farm and pack house audits.

It is also responsible for the provision and adoption of Integrated Pesticide Management practices to reduce the effects of Maximum Residue Levels (MRL’s) through technical and advisory services. In addition, it carries out data validation for purposes of planning and policy formulation.

The directorate uses specific strategies to enhance trade and exports in horticulture. These include undertaking market research to identify emerging markets and strengthen existing ones; establishing market linkages for Kenyan horticultural produce traders to access new/emerging markets; and facilitating horticultural crops stakeholders to participate and attend horticultural crops expos, exhibitions and fairs.

Other strategies are the use of bilateral and multilateral engagements in collaboration with other government agencies, partners and stakeholders to increase market share in traditional markets and build emerging markets; capacity building for farmers and exporters to enable them meet international market requirements (such as for maximum residue levels); business regulatory reforms to promote exports; and promotion of value addition.

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