Kenyan farmers are grappling with a looming crisis as countries in the European Union (EU) are set to impose a ban on fresh produce due to proposed policy changes.
Once implemented in 2022, the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Policy will force Kenyan farmers to look to other markets outside the EU countries.
The expected losses of Ksh105 billion annually once the country adopts the new policy, has led farmers to seek out new markets in the US, China, Thailand, the Middle East and India.
Experts from the Agrochemical Association of Kenya and Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya told the media that if the policy is ratified, annual earnings from fresh produce in Kenya will dip by as much as 70 per cent.
Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei recently presented a petition at the National Assembly seeking to ban the use of some pesticides in order to align with the EU recommendations.
The pesticides classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic and all others that show the effect on reproduction toxicity are to be outlawed if the petition sails through.
However, this has led to a clash with the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya boss - Okisegere Ojepata, who argued that banning the pesticides in the country would reportedly reduce output by half, which will make the country a net importer of food
He further insisted that if these changes must be made, then it should be on a negotiation basis to find viable alternatives.
“There are certain pests in Africa that cannot survive in EU because their temperatures go to as low as -4 degrees, while here it can be as high as 38 degrees. We are at a crossroads, but we will not allow certain things to happen,” he explained.
A recent study has shown that maize, sukuma wiki, and tomatoes grown in Kenya have been grown using Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).
These HHPs are known to have been banned in the EU and most recently in the US, but are still available and sold in the Kenyan market,
According to the World Health Organisation, HHPs are dangerous to human health, animals, and the environment.
Through misuse of pesticides, including overuse, chemical substances may end up contaminating water, air and soil, with adverse effects on plants and wildlife, and a loss of biodiversity in general
(although the latter is also influenced by a number of other factors).
In particular, plant protection products released into the environment in an uncontrolled way by spray drift, leaching or run-off may pollute soil, surface water and ground water.