Kenya risks losing its key Middle East meat export market due to unscrupulous traders who forge Kenya Meat Commission stamps to export poor quality meat products that fail the test of food health standards and Islamic dietary guidelines (halal).
Rogue traders have been exploiting Kenya Meat Commission abattoirs to slaughter a few animals, only to get the requisite certification and use it to camouflage meat products from uncertified sources.
Last week, Dubai banned a Kenyan meat merchant who has been using a fake licence from the state-owned meat processor – the sole accredited meat processor in the country allowed to supply meat products to the United Arab Emirates which constitutes Kenya’s top beef export destination.
“The country’s meat exports are at risk as some dealers fabricate Kenya Meat Commission papers yet their consignments are from slaughterhouses whose food safety standards have not been verified,” said Livestock Development minister Mohammed Abdi Kuti last week when he addressed members of the Animal Production Society of Kenya in Nyeri.
The Kenya Meat Commission has announced plans to adopt direct marketing of its products to double its export market turnover, a move that will see it ditch its current model of accessing foreign markets through agents.
“This gives us impetus to set up shop in our export markets to take charge of quality standards,” said the Kenya Meat Commission in a statement to the Business Daily.
The firm said it will carry out surveillance to flush out any bogus traders posing as KMC agents who are eroding the market confidence of Kenyan meat, globally renowned for its high quality.
The European Union has already banned the importation of Kenyan beef due to food safety concerns as a result of livestock diseases.
especially in arid and semi-arid areas of Kenya which supply about 60 per cent of the animal meat market. Should the Arab world follow suit, the country will lose a significant source of earnings as the livestock sector contributes 12 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
Export sales contribute 20 per cent of total annual turnover and the parastatal has been banking on aggressive marketing of its products directly in foreign markets to grow its earnings and help cut the over-reliance on the domestic market.
KMC on average exports about 100 metric tonnes of meat products per month mostly mutton, lamb, goat meat and corned beef to its principal export markets such as United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Egypt.
The total value of marketed livestock and related products in Kenya grew by 22 per cent to Sh55.3 billion in the year 2010 compared to Sh45.1 billion a year earlier.