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July 20, 2008

Kenya urges produce supply contracts to avoid price gouging by middlemen

Kenya's fresh produce industry regulator, the Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA), is proposing contract farming as a way to contain middlemen who have wreaked havoc in the value chain.

The authority says that in the absence of any contractual engagements between growers and exporters, a significant portion of the produce ends up in the hands of middlemen accused of exploiting small-scale farmers.

Managing director, Alfred Serem, is calling on the small scale farmers to maintain contact with regional offices in establishing genuine contractual links.

The country’s horticultural exports have risen from 1,480 tonnes in 1968 to 192,000 tonnes last year. The Economic Survey 2008 put Kenya’s earning from the sub sector at Sh43.12 billion (US$648 million) in foreign exchange.

Some farmers said during a stakeholders’ meeting in Nakuru that have opted for subsistence production due to the complexity of marketing. They blamed unstable prices dictated by a few sector players and middlemen for the low farm gate prices.

Farmers also sought protection from agents who promote alternative land use only to leave farmers with no outlets when the produce matures.

Anne Gikonyo, the HCDA General Manager in Charge of marketing wants farmers to share information with regional offices to find out if the processing agents are registered.

Business Daily Africa

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