Kenya goes after fake pesticides with new law

Kenya is fine-tuning a new legal framework to regulate the registration and oversight of pesticides at a time when legal gaps have given dubious traders a chance to sneak substandard products to the market. The result has been depressed yields and tired soils.

 The changes come amid challenges in implementing existing regulations to combat the supply of counterfeit chemicals in neighboring Tanzania and Uganda. Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Felix Koskei says the new law, which is being finalized before approval by the country’s parliament, will align Kenya with the international conventions to which the country, East Africa’s largest economy, is a party.

Koskei said the procedure for registration of new pesticides and renewal of licenses for existing products in the market will remain the same, but will have more vigorous oversight by the new authority to ensure compliance. “The need to repeal and replace the Pest Control Products Act arises from a multiplicity of developments in Pest Control Products law on the international scene including a number of treaties and agreements to which Kenya has been a party,” he said.

The Ministry of Agriculture has finalized a collection of views from the public and is in the process of collating the comments before the final draft of the Pest Control Products Proposed Bill 2013 is forwarded to Cabinet for approval. The draft will then be submitted to Parliament to debate and approval.

The bill also creates the Pesticide Control Products Authority which will replace the Pesticide Control Products Board. The proposed authority, like the board it seeks to replace, will have powers to recruit high-caliber staff and raise adequate revenue to ensure effective control of pests. It will also have a mandate to regulate the manufacture, sale and use of public health pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and pesticide for veterinary use.

Under the new law, tougher sentences will be given for those found violating rules for registering new pesticides.
Pests Control and Products Board Registrar Dr. Paul Ngaruiya says effective registration is critical in ensuring pesticides remain a useful and indispensable tool in farming.

“Registration is an important legal requirement all over the world because every government has an obligation to ensure the safety of its citizens, animals, plants and the environment,” he said. Registration of a pesticide in Kenya follows a near-identical procedure to that of Tanzania and Uganda.

For example, the interested party is required to make an application to the registrar in a prescribed form and submit alongside it an experimental label and copy of a dossier of technical information. An introduction of new products permit costs Sh10, 000, the same as temporary registration for a period not exceeding one year. A certificate of registration will cost the applicant Sh30, 000 while a renewal certificate of registration not exceeding two years costs Sh20, 000.

Ngaruiya says technical information for the pest control product in question must be “summarized on the label in conformity to the pest control product’s labelling, advertising and packing regulations.” “If the board is satisfied with the information provided, the product is released under experimental permit for local biological efficacy trial,” he said.

Kenya has accredited some institutions to carry out efficacy trials – the major one being the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI). Institutions are required to send a confidential report to the board on the efficacy trial findings. The registrar will also require submission of a commercial label “reflecting the application rates, timing of application as recommended by the local researcher.”

Kenya’s pesticide registration committee – with members drawn from the Ministry of Health, KARI, Coffee Research Foundation and Kenya Bureau of Standards – then makes a recommendation to the board for the registration of a product or rejection of the application.

“If the board is satisfied with the safety, efficacy, quality and economic value of the product,” it is granted full registration for three years and a certificate of registration is issued. The certificate can be renewed after every two years, Ngaruiya added. He explained that in special circumstances, a product may be granted temporary registration for a period not exceeding 12 months, “within which the missing technical information or scientific information should be provided.”

Such special circumstances include cases where emergency control of infestations is needed or where an applicant commits to produce additional information.

In neighboring Tanzania, the war against toxic products and counterfeits through a comprehensive pesticide regime has been placed in the hands of the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute (TPRI), a regulatory body under the Ministry of Agriculture. It has a mandate to register or deregister pesticide products under the country’s Plant Protection Act.

To register a pesticide product, apply to TPRI on a prescribed form and submit it to the registrar of pesticides together with the product’s dossier, label draft in both English and Swahili.

Registration of a new pesticide in Tanzania requires an estimated Sh450,000, compared with Kenya’s Sh160,000. The Tanzania cost includes Sh380,000 for field trials, Sh4,000 application fee and Sh50,000 for full registration. Three samples of the candidate product are also submitted, two of which will be used the field trials and one for laboratory analysis.
The period for field trials in Tanzania is determined by factors such as the intended use.  Public health products (aerosols), floriculture pesticides and acaricides require a shorter period. Agricultural pesticides will take at least three planting seasons – about two to three years.

The field trial findings are submitted to the Pesticide Approval and Registration Technical Subcommittee (PART) and if it is approved, it is submitted to the National Plant Protection Advisory Committee for review. The approval at this stage elevates the product from experimental registration to either provisional or restricted registration.

Under the experimental category, the product is not allowed in the market for at least two years. The product, however, can be handled and applied by technical/professional personnel under the restricted category. Full registration of the pesticide allows the manufacturer to have it in the market for at least five years before seeking a renewal of the license.

According to World Bank’s Africa Trade Policy Note No. 32 from July 2012, “Tanzania generally does not recognize the testing and registration of chemicals done in other countries and requires a minimum of three full seasons for domestic field trials.” World Bank said because of the high cost and time needed to comply with Tanzania’s registration requirements, there are many newer, more effective and safer chemicals available on the market that Tanzanian farmers cannot access.

“Moreover, because the market for pesticides in Tanzania is much smaller than in Kenya, the difference in cost as a share of potential future sales is even higher than current data indicates.” Uganda, on the other hand, has fairly straightforward procedures for registering agricultural chemicals which start with making an application on a prescribed form. The application must be accompanied by five copies of the label for the agricultural chemical or certified copies.

The Uganda National Agricultural Chemicals Board and the Agricultural Chemicals Control Technical Committee, which is a subsidiary of the board, has the mandate to build capacity to inspect, certify and agrochemical trade in Uganda. The board requires that before a pesticide is registered, the applicant submits samples of the chemical for official testing, evaluation and screening. The board also requires a sample of the technical grade of the agricultural chemical’s active ingredients and laboratory standard of the pesticide’s active ingredients.

Uganda has the least expensive registration application fee compared to Kenya and Tanzania at just Sh15. A certificate of registration is issued for a period of three years after which a renewal is necessary after payment of Sh8500.
A temporary registration in Uganda costs Sh68, 000 for 18 months pending additional technical information on use of the chemical. The temporary registration also applies in situations where the pesticide is urgently needed to control pest infestation or occurrences that are detrimental to public health, environment, animals or crops. Where a pesticide requires more laboratory tests, experiments or field trials to ascertain its efficacy, a temporary registration may also apply.