Quality management along the supply chain in Kenya's horticulture industry
The purpose of this research was to investigate the critical quality issues that pose challenges in the horticulture industry and explore the ways through which organizations in the industry have attempted to mitigate such issues and hence give recommendations on the areas that were found to have gaps. Also to investigate the extent of awareness levels of and the use of quality management tools in the supply chain as well as how networking and cooperation among the suppliers could help resolve quality issues in the supply chain. Based on the literature, the paper sought to confirm the variables identified in the theoretical framework; that is the dependent, independent and the moderating variables. A survey comprising of 37 horticultural firms dealing with fresh produce processing was conducted targeting the Technical Managers of those companies. Semi structured questionnaire was used to collect date where questions were asked on a five-point likert scale. Overall, the study found a number of significant variables that were considered to be key in meeting customers' requirements and hence the success of the firms in the industry. These included; perishability resulting from chemical reactions, fungal and bacteriological infections, logistical issues which posed strong challenges with regard to cool chain facilities, unpredictable weather patterns, and seasonality of supply and demand of products and information flows along the supply chain especially at upstream end remained a challenge. The above findings will contribute a great deal to mitigating the identified challenges if the following recommendations are taken into consideration by the stakeholders; adhering to strict harvesting protocols, use of cool chain facilities, imposing time limits on the movement of products through the chain, effective exchange of valuable information and suppliers taking the lead in managing systems.