News and knowhow for farmers

Kenya’s only MRL tester safeguards export farmers from lost millions

Stricter European Union Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) have increased the interception and destruction of Kenya’s agriculture exports at EU borders. 

To avoid losing millions in produce, Kenyan export farmers are increasingly seeking out SGS Kenya– the country’s only internal pesticide residue tester.

Pesticide residues refer to the remnants of pesticides after their application on crops whilst still in farms. Maximum residue limits (MRLs) refer to the legally allowable concentration of pesticide residue on foods or feed,

The EU and Great Britain are Kenya’s main destinations for agricultural products (vegetables, fruits, and flowers) generating an estimated Sh170 billion annually.

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Concerningly, under its Farm to Fork food safety strategy, the EU has dramatically reduced the tolerance for pesticide residue on its imported food produce. The policy bars entry of food products with even an insignificant trace of pesticide residue. 

The union has also increased the sampling frequency for MRL compliance in Kenyan products from 10 per cent to 25 per cent.

This greatly disadvantages Kenyan growers who farm in a tropical region more exposed to plant pests.

“For export farmers, or those with plans to begin exporting agricultural commodities– particularly to the EU– minimum residue level tests are a prerequisite,” illuminated John Mungai– SGS’s head of Food Agriculture and Business Development.

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The company’s Mombasa lab– the only pesticide residue testing lab in Kenya– handles hundreds of samples from farmers daily. These are mainly fresh produce (French beans, snow peas, sugar snaps, avocados, mangoes, and herbs) usually destined for the European market.

Most samples are consolidated from SGS’s Nairobi office in Upper Hill and shipped to Mombasa for MRL analysis. This process takes six days and farmers are charged Sh18,000 plus VAT.

John Mungai, SGS: 0720139006

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