News and knowhow for farmers

Safety measures to take in pesticide application on your crops

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In 2017, Kenya’s fresh produce to the European Union was intercepted 29 times due to infestation by pests such as leaf miner, bollworm and armyworm among others with the produce having exceeded minimum pesticide limits of 10 per cent maximum residue level according to the Horticultural Crops Directorate.

In developing countries such as Kenya, frequent exposure to pesticides by farmers and farm workers is very common. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimate pesticide poisoning rates at two to three people per minute. Pesticide-related health issues therefore poses threat to development and can easily reverse or undermine the gains made in agricultural growth.

The Pest Control and Products Board is advocating for correct usage of pesticides to maximize their benefits while at the same time minimizing risks.

Farmers therefore are required to only use registered products by PCPB. Before buying a pesticide, ensure is it bears a PCPB registration number- PCPB (CR) #### on the label. The package should be intact and not leaking or tampered with. Read the product labels carefully and entirely before use and stick to the label instructions accordingly.

Wear appropriate protective gear such as rubber gloves, gumboots, overalls and respirators when mixing and applying pesticides. Gloves cost about Sh350, gumboots Sh700 and overalls Sh950.  Do not eat, drink or smoke while mixing or spraying pesticides and afterwards wash your hands and the protective gear thoroughly with soap and water.

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Safe pesticide application. Courtesy

The major pests hindering export of Kenya’s fresh produce include bollworm, leaf miner and armyworm.

The leaf miner causes 27 per cent rejection rate and affects flowers, French bean pods and snow pea pods. It is identified by presence of yellow lines, spots or blotches on leaves caused by the larvae. A natural way instead of use of chemicals in controlling leaf miners is by use of neem oil which affects the life cycle of the pest by killing the larva hence reducing their population.

Armyworm accounts for less than five per cent of the total rejection cases in flowers. Natural ways farmers can reduce the impact include squashing the eggs or caterpillars when they see them.

Bean thrips affect mango, banana, French beans, snow peas, flowers and avocados. Thrips suck juices in plants turning them pale and discolored. They are controlled by uprooting and discarding of infected plants. Also remove weeds and grass to eliminate alternative hosts.

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