An estimated 80 percent of horticultural farmers are small scale, so working in groups comes in handy in ensuring quality and steady supply.
In such groups, farmers follow a Quality Management System (QMS) which act as a uniform guide at production level. Besides, they can jointly hire service providers as a way of ensuring professional services at a low cost.
Generally, large scale farms do not need to work in groups as they have enough volumes to meet their markets demands. Such farms need to have their own QRMs.
Farmers should always plant seeds that are certified by the local certifier. In Kenya, KEPHIS is the organization that certifies seeds. Fertilizer should be applied on basis of guidance and recommendations by a qualified agronomist.
Irrigation water should be clean and free from contaminants such as heavy metals, microbial and mineral contaminants.
Pesticides should be applied with authority from a qualified expert eg an agronomist. Use pesticides which are approved by relevant authorities like the government or by the client. Where applicable, the recommended withdrawal period after pesticide application must be observed as per the expert’s advice. It is advisable to embrace Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods to reduce chemical use. Such methods include Fly traps, Sticky tapes, Beneficial insects, Trap crops and Insect netting.
During the harvest, harvesters must observe high-level hygiene measures. Their nails must be kept short, hair covered and hands clean and in good health. Crates should be clean and sanitized before using them during harvest.
Transport vehicles should be clean and covered.
At the pack house, produce is offloaded and weighed. Keep produce at low temperatures, about 8 degrees centigrade. Like in the farms, workers here must maintain proper hygiene levels to keep contamination at bay. Sort the produce to ensure only those that are of good quality and meet market specifications are packed. Pack produce according to specification by the client to meet market demand.
Hygiene must also be maintained even at the distribution level to ensure that the produce reaches clients in clean, hygienic and high-quality states.
For an in-depth guide, DOWNLOAD the Self-Assessment Guide which overs the whole value chain of french beans and snow peas.