Follow regulations, ensure safety when it comes to food

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By Marion Wagaki, 14 June 2021

Government has been able to maintain order in the packaging of food items especially in the Potato subsector, However, it has raised an alarm over the sale of contaminated food in big open-air markets, contributing to high health bills and income losses to farmers and traders.

Most of the fresh produce being sold in the markets, Government claims value chains and especially the farmers have been selling premature produce and others sprayed with chemicals not authorized by the Pest Control and Poisons Board (PCPB).

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) acting Director General Kello Harsama during a press conference at his Dagoreti Corner Office, accused the value chains of disregarding outlined food regulations thus contributing to the emergence of major diseases like cancer.

“Farmers do not wait after spraying the fresh produce like tomatoes and vegetables. Once sprayed they do not take the recommended time before harvesting therefore endangering the consumers health,” said Harsama.

He appealed to farmers and value chain players involved in food across the country to abide by food safety regulations especially   when it comes to chemical application more for those in horticulture.

The DG who was speaking as the country marks the world Food Safety week and as AFA carries out sensitization in major markets in Nairobi on safe food noted that, with regulations on the potato packaging being successful in Meru and Nyandarua counties, the multi-agency tasked with enforcing the regulations will be moving to the other 7 potato growing area to enforce the same.

“We are extending to other counties and ensure the enforcement cuts across and this will ensure the cartels do not run from one county to another”, he said.

Harsama further said that shortly the government will be moving to restore the rice sector which has also seen farmers discouraged and demoralized because of the challenges they are encountering such as adulteration of rice.

“The challenges such as mixing pishori with mwea rice and also importation of rice in an unprocedural ways from other countries is not right.”

The DG said there is need to be sure of rice safety through regulations that will ensure market of the local brand within the country, saying that farmers need motivation and also get the best out of what they are doing.

On the Maize sector, Harsama explained that the Government will soon commence random tests of maize aflatoxin levels in counties and in processing firms as part of ensuring food safety in the country.

 “In conjunction with County Governments and other value chains we will soon start unplanned tests of aflatoxins in maize and equally check levels of chemicals in other produce, like tomatoes and greens,” he added.  

Harsama noted that the flow of maize into the country is smooth and that the restored maize trade from Uganda and Tanzania once the border have been opened is ongoing.

However, he assured that the maize coming in is undergoing test at the entry to ensure the level of aflatoxin is standard. “Opening our borders does not mean we have slowed our aflatoxin testing”.

Tom Anjere Deputy County Commissioner in charge of Dagoreti Sub County said the multi-agency group that has been deployed to help in enforcing the Crops (Irish Potato) Regulations 2019 has for the last two days been sensitizing traders in major markets to adhere to the law.

Speaking to the media after a sensitization exercise at Kawangware Market, Anjere said the team will ensure the   regulations are followed to the latter to ensure unethical behaviours by a section of the potato subsector are fully tamed.

“Ours is very simple –to enforce the regulations as they are. The team of regular police officers, agriculture officers and inspectors drawn from AFA will intensify crackdown of the crooked traders until they comply,” said Anjere. 

The Multi agency are visiting the major markets of Kawangware, Wakulima, Kangemi, Highridge, and Korogocho to sensitise and enforce the potato regulations

Patrick Ndegwa, Chairman of the Kangemi market Potato sellers, however said that if the government does not enforce the potato regulations at farm level, it will be very difficult for them since as traders they buy the already extended bags that come to the market.

“We are ready to follow the rules but the government should not harass the traders since we get the extended bags here in the market. Let them enforce the 50 kg bag at farm level and across all potato growing counties”, he said.

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