[Sticky] Concept Note for Horticulture Food Safety Policy Makers Forum - National Horticulture Roundtable
Concern about food safety continues to increase among consumers in Kenya due to frequent cases of food borne illnesses arising from contaminated food. Food borne diseases (FBDs) affect productivity, cause loss of market opportunities and lead to fatalities. With increased urbanization and a growing middle class that demands a more diversified and nutritious diet the FBD burden is expected to increase.
Globally there is a heightened call for a collective Public-Private multi-sectoral efforts to comprehensively address food safety concerns (Chairman’s summary 1st FAO/WHO/AU Food Safety conference) The first UN World Food Safety Day marked on June 7th 2019 was themed “Food safety, everyone’s business” against growing global acknowledgement that there is no food security without food safety. Primary responsibility for food safety lies with food business operators (private sector) while consumers must demand accountability and government provide effective oversight.
Despite recent efforts to address issues of food safety in Kenya’s horticulture sub-sector, notably the development of the Horticulture Code of Practice (KS1758-2:2016); the development of the National Horticulture Traceability System and crop (horticulture) regulations there has not been the expected impact in terms of improvements in traceability and compliance to standards. Neither have there been massive investments to food markets. This is indicative of inadequate collaboration and coordination in interventions between Public and Private Sector. The reaction from various quarters to proposed legislation for food safety and current processes in development of legal framework for a National Food Safety Agency is additional proof that inclusivity and coordination of food safety controls is more critical now than ever before.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, through the State Department of Agriculture, Division of Horticulture is rolling out interventions addressing food safety for the horticulture sub-sector through the National Horticulture Transformation Technical Working Group (NHTTWG). This is aligned to ongoing processes of developing legal framework for a National Food Safety Agency by the National Government in recognition of the importance of food safety in the national development agenda. The NHTTWG has adopted a multi-sectoral approach with inclusion of private sector and other actors alongside public sector.
In light of the highlighted issues, the formation of an accountability forum would be vital in driving the change. The “National Horticulture Roundtable” would serve as an accountability platform that would enhance transparency and accountability between Public and Private Sector and Consumer representatives. By examining specific issues that require multi-sectoral interventions and establishing clear commitments towards those interventions from the actors concerned there is increasing accountability from concerned stakeholders.
The goal of this meeting is the formation of the accountability forum and examination of the interventions supporting improved food safety in the horticulture sub-sector with a focus on traceability of produce for the domestic market and increase accountability on measures that support scaling up of traceability under the coordination of the currently established multi-sectoral food safety control mechanisms.
Specific forum objectives
- To agree modalities for public private coordination of a holistic implementation of traceability for domestic horticulture produce including individual sector responsibilities
- To initiate the National Horticulture Roundtable accountability framework