Training of Farmers on grading of sweet potatoes for export at Kiptere Emmaus AGC, Kericho County on 13th November 2014

The following areas were emphasized: a) KEPHIS operations – legal framework, services offered and location of KEPHIS offices. b) International trade of sweet potato c) Postharvest requirements for sweet potato d) Standards applied when grading sweet potato e) Quality requirements when grading such as careful harvesting to avoid mechanical damage and harvesting mature tubers; these are some of the minimum market requirements that were discussed with regard to sweet potatoes: I. Firm; II. Whole; III. Fresh; IV. Wholesome/sound; V. Not affected by rot, mould or deterioration as to make it unfit for consumption; VI. Clean, and practically free of any visible extraneous matter or foreign matter, except permitted substances used to prolong its shelf life; VII. Off-colour, taste and texture characteristic of variety; VIII. Practically free of pests and damage caused by pests; IX. Free of excess external moisture, adequately surface dried if they have been washed; X. Free of any foreign smell and/or taste with exception of preservation agents allowed under EAS 103 standard; XI. Practically free of mechanical damage and bruising; and XII. Free from greening. f) Quality tolerances g) Phytosanitary consideration – free from pest and diseases like black rot, wireworms, weevils and millipedes h) Classification is done with the following grades used in accordance with the market requirements of each class and the quality tolerances i.e. extra class; class I and class II. Generally class I is exported. i) Weights size – large, medium and small – generally medium class is exported i.e. around 250 j) Contaminants – Pesticide residues and heavy metal contaminants featured in the discussion and reference was made to Codex Standards and KEPHIS monitoring data on these contaminants especially with regards to sweet potatoes and the basis for such limits in food safety was emphasized – elaborate explanations were provided on heavy metals such as cadmium, lead and mercury. Pesticide residue limits were provided for commonly used pesticides on sweet potatoes. k) Hygiene – use of clean water for washing the potatoes was emphasized to avoid human pathogens. l) Packaging – the farmers noted that gunny bags created scratches on their produce; use of crates and other food grade materials that will safeguard the hygienic were emphasized. m) Labelling – to ensure traceability labeling was emphasized e.g. grower codes – which the farmers and exporter (SACOMA) can develop specific to the farmers.