This report is the fourth in a five-part feature series on what’s called Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in Africa. GAP is a product of many institutions involved with agricultural interests. Examples include the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, European Super market chains as well as many African governments. GAP is used to increase the value of farm products and expand markets to farmers. Voice of America's Cole Mallard reports.
An African specialist in agriculture says very basic Kenyan farm infrastructures need funding to increase their capacity for income. Ruth Nyagah is the managing director of the Nairobi branch of Africert Limited, a certification group that determines whether agricultural products meet established standards. She says the top priority in good agricultural practices is food safety. Other issues, she says, include environmental protection, protective clothing and procedures for applying pesticides.
Nyagah says food safety has become very important in the last ten years because of European demand for African farm products, especially fruits and vegetables.
She says good practices are passed on to farmers through a national task force that coordinates meetings with farmers and radio talk shows with farm experts that help answer questions from farmers and address issues of concern to them.
Nyagah says in order for farmers to be certified, they must comply with GAP procedures and standards. She says each GAP requirement comes with criteria to meet food safety, environmental, and workers’ welfare needs.
In return, she says farmers who comply can expect to have access to broader GAP markets.
Nyagah lists three challenges to the GAP mission: resources, capacity and infrastructure. She says “resources” basically means money: ”For example, on issues of hygiene at the farm, upgrading requires money, and producers [farmers] sometimes have no money to do that.” She adds that “capacity” means the “need for more awareness and the mechanisms to follow up and to train farmers,” which she says is not adequate right now. Nyagah says, “We have very basic infrastructures at our farm level – hygiene infrastructure, chemical or pesticide storage infrastructure – and these need to be upgraded to meet the requirements of the GAPs, which are quite high.”
Nyagah says feedback from the GAP effort has been positive and shows productive results: “We have farmers who have utilized good agricultural practices and have been satisfied and have been able to access markets and they are able to sell their products to high-end markets in Europe, and they’re happy with that.”