Kenya Standard 1758 :2016 (KS 1758) is a code of practice for Kenya’s horticulture industry, outlining the sanitary and safety criteria for the production, handling, and sale of flowers, ornamentals, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices. It is divided in to two: Part 1-Floriculture and Part 2-Fruits and vegetables.
Horticulture remains among the top foreign exchange earners in Kenya today attracting over KSH. 153 Billion in 2021. However, the industry is yet to achieve its full potential owing to produce quality concerns and adherence to international codes of practice. Kenyan industry players and actors in recognizing the importance and the challenges in the sub-sector designed a code of practice to regulate the production of horticultural produce to ensure supply of high quality, healthy and safe produce to the local and international markets, Kenya Standard 1758 (KS 1758.)
The Standard was created in accordance with domestic and international food safety, worker health and safety, environmental, and good agricultural practices regulations. This is meant to improve farm assurance systems, compliance with Kenyan legislation, and rigorous adherence to chemical plant protection products. The standard applies to all operators in the horticulture value chain including but not limited, to breeders, propagators, producers, consolidators, traders, shippers, and cargo handlers for local, regional and international markets.
The standard is administered by AFA-Horticulture Crops Directorate and Kenya Bureau of Standards(KEBS) with different industry stakeholders tasked with the duty of creating awareness on its importance. Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPC Kenya) is one among the stakeholders who is actively involved in creating awareness among its members and capacity building them to implement and comply to its requirements.
Why Kenya Standard 1758 (KS 1758)
Kenya Standard 1758 is founded on four main pillars that can assure production of high quality horticultural produce.
Firm leaves, well-formed blooms and fruit, and well-developed root systems characterize healthy plants. Plants that are unhealthy have damage to their leaves, stems, roots, blooms, or fruit. Health refers to the state of being free from illness and or injury and thus plant health refers to the state of plants being free from illness and injury.
In farming, this state can be ensured by many processes such as irrigation, feeding, pesticide and disease protection among other practices. The standard sets requirements to ensure that this processes are carried out to promote healthy plants while rendering the final plant/produce safe for consumption.
These requirements include but are not limited to integrated pest management (IPM)and organic plant nutrition to minimize the use of chemicals that are linked to the rising cancer cases.
Consumers are assured that the food they consume is pure, safe, wholesome and nutritious and will not cause harm to them when consumed in the way it was intended. The standards require that implementers come up with policies, procedures and plans to handle, prepare and store food in a manner that prevents the consumers from food borne illnesses.
The requirements ensure that food production process is free from hazards mainly classified as biological, chemical and physical. Biological hazards are the largest contributors to food borne illnesses and they include, harmful bacteria such as coliforms and viruses which contaminate the food resulting to these illnesses.
Chemical hazards constitute all chemical agents used in the production and processing of food such as pesticides, preservatives and fertilizers that can cause adverse health effects to the consumers. Physical hazards are usually identifiable without many microscopic test using the naked eye such as metals, stones, hair or glass to mention.
Environmental sustainability is the obligation to conserve natural resources and maintain global ecosystems in order to support health and well-being today and the future. Growing populations have increased the demand for increased food production. Most practices adopted have resulted in increased greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and rendered the environment polluted and unfit for production.
KS 1758 addresses these concerns by advocating for adoption of practices promoting green and regenerative production, while remaining cognizant of the flora and fauna surrounding production areas. The practices are bench-marked on international standards and local regulatory regulations for environmental conservation. Because many decisions that affect the environment have a long-term impact, one of the most important aspects of the standards requirements is to ensure that all practices adopted preserve the world.
Worker Health, safety and social accountability
Employees have the right to occupational health and safety to ensure their well-being. Millions of workdays are lost every year related to worker illnesses, injuries and accidents. Employers are required to identify possible risks and set control measures to minimize these occurrences. Besides, the identified factors, job insecurity and poor wages have been linked to employee satisfaction and attrition rates and thus is the mandate of the employer to ensure they are satisfied.
Thus, the KS 1758 standard borrows and requires its implementers to adhere to professional and legal regulations to ensure employee worker health safety, including but not limited to fair wages, enhancing working environments and capacity building.
To know if its certified, horticultural produce shall bear the following mark of quality