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Farmers warn EU pesticide policy will cripple Kenyan agriculture


By George Munene

Farmer lobby groups led by the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, the National Potato Council of Kenya, and the Cereal Growers Association have warned that a report forwarded by The National Assembly’s Health Committee that recommends the Pest Control Products Board ensures products banned in Europe and the United States are not in use in Kenya will savage agricultural production in the country.

“There will be a near-immediate maize crisis, closure of the country’s coffee estates, a cut in tomato production by 80 per cent, and a crippling in production of potatoes, wheat, rice, onions, and most other crops,” warned Ojepat Okisegere, CEO of the Fresh Produce.

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The petition was filed last year by Uasin Gishu woman representative Gladys Shollei on behalf of Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network, Resources Oriented Initiative Kenya, and Route to Food Initiative.

The lobby groups had argued that the volume of imported herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides had doubled in the past four years from 6,400 tonnes in 2015 to 15,600 tonnes in 2018, posing a risk to health and the environment.

The petitioners singled out 24 products in the Kenyan market that are carcinogenic, 24 that can cause damage to genetic changes, 35 that can interfere with the hormonal system, 140 that can affect the nervous system, and 262 products that show effects on reproduction toxicity. The products had also been banned in Europe, United Kingdom, and the USA.

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The consortium that represents farmers has opposed the report and wants the national parliament to assess the impact of pesticides banned in the EU and US on Kenya’s agricultural production before extending the same in Kenya.

The group cautioned that the pesticide ban could be catastrophic and did not incorporate the input of the agricultural committee or any agricultural policymakers.

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