The Kenyan farming industry is divided over the efforts of lawmakers to align pesticide laws with the EU’s green agreement. Industry organisations have warned that a prohibition might result in the loss of over €1 billion in revenue.
According to the Tegemeo University of Research and Policy, situated at Egerton University, an agriculture specialty institute in Central Kenya, the country’s agriculture sector might lose more than Sh150 billion (€1.2 billion) if the ban on the use of agricultural pesticides goes into effect.
“If the ban is effected, then Kenya will have no alternative but to become a net importer of food to meet the needs of its people as a substantial amount of food will be lost,” said Egerton’s Timothy Njagi at an event organised by Science Kenya Africa, according to Euractiv.com.
While complying with EU pesticide regulations will benefit Kenyan farmers and growers who wish to sell to the EU, it might pose a difficulty for subsistence farmers and smallholders who don’t.
Risk review of products
Agriculture goods such as cut flowers, fruits and vegetables make up the majority of Kenya’s exports to the EU, accounting for more than 90% of the overall export value. Crop production in East Africa has been affected by locust incursions in recent years, necessitating significant pesticide use. Smallholders with land sizes ranging from half an acre to five acres account for up to 90% of Kenya’s fresh produce output.
According to Olumide Abimbola of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the European Green New Deal “should be considered as a foreign policy instrument for the EU, because it would touch every country in the world that the EU trades with”.
In Kenya, the National Assembly is debating whether to impose a comprehensive ban on agrochemicals banned in the EU. Gladys Shollei, a member of the devolved Uasin Gishu County assembly, had filed a public appeal in parliament, claiming that the number of imported pest control products (PCPs) had more than quadrupled in four years, creating a health and environmental concern. Around 200 chemicals would be included by the proposed prohibition.
The country’s Pest Control Goods Board is now undertaking a risk review of products offered in Kenya, following directions from the National Assembly’s health committee. Of these, 24 pesticides were found to be carcinogenic, 24 to be mutagenic, 35 to be endocrine disrupters, and 140 to be neurotoxins.