Plant and plant produce export goes electronic in Kenya

Kenyan avocados ready for export. Photo by Kilimo News

Kenya through the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS), officially launched the use of the EPhyto, the electronic system of facilitating the export of plants and plant produce on Thursday.

KEPHIS and The Netherlands Food and Consumer Safety Authority pioneered the adoption and implementation of electronic certification to have paperless certification.

Although the pioneering work was initiated by the two countries at a time when there were no standards on electronic certification for quarantine processes, the concept has been internationally accepted and adopted by over 70 countries, including EU member states.

The Electronic phytosanitary certificate provides a guarantee that the conditions in the plant consignment(s) are met. All plant consignments to be exported need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate(s) but paper certification is fraught with issues. These include documents not arriving with consignments, typographical errors, additional declarations missing, absence of a phytosanitary certificate and incomplete phytosanitary certificate(s). Hence the reason for seeking electronic certification is to create efficiencies.

The certificate therefore will eliminate fraud, and also save time and resources. The EPhyto is also real-time as Kenyan inspectors send the information of a consignment which is received in real-time to the exporting country. In addition, the Ephyto can integrate into other systems, for instance, the one for KenTrade.

Speaking during the event, Agriculture and Livestock PS Kellow Harsama said that digitalization is a key factor in increasing investment attractiveness and innovative development for Kenya and The Netherlands. He said it improves a business’s efficiency and productivity, improves resource management through the automation of processes, lowers operational costs of businesses, enhances transparency and better communication and amplifies customer experience.

Flowers for export

Digital transformation also provides enhanced security by reducing risks associated with cyberattacks which can disrupt business operations.

KEPHIS MD Prof. Theophilus Mutui appreciated the cooperation between the two countries while reiterating these systems have simplified the phytosanitary (plant health) regulation processes thereby increasing efficiency, improving user experience and reducing operational costs.

“While we celebrate this milestone, we realize that innovation is a dynamic process. Therefore, we continue to explore more opportunities for innovation so that we can deliver efficient and cost-effective service to our stakeholders,” he added.

The Netherlands noted that while Inspections will be done as usual phytosanitary certificates will be digitally generated hence the digital signing and authentication which will eliminate intermediaries.

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