Commodities

Kenya risks Sh150bn loss in pesticides ban

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Uasin Gishu Women Representative Gladys Boss Shollei. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya stands to lose more than Sh150 billion if the ban on the use of agricultural chemicals is effected, a research think tank has said.
  • The Egerton-based Tegemeo Institute of Research and Policy says Kenya being in the tropics, farmers cannot afford to grow crops without using chemicals to control pests and diseases.

Kenya stands to lose more than Sh150 billion if the ban on the use of agricultural chemicals is effected, a research think tank has said.

The Egerton-based Tegemeo Institute of Research and Policy says Kenya being in the tropics, farmers cannot afford to grow crops without using chemicals to control pests and diseases.

Uasin Gishu Women Representative Gladys Boss Shollei is sponsoring a Bill in Parliament aimed at banning the use of at least 200 chemicals locally, which Tegemeo says will lead to 40 percent losses in food production.

Timothy Njagi, a senior researcher at the institution, said the ban on these chemicals would be detrimental to food security, forcing Kenya to rely on imports to meet its annual needs.

Dr Njagi said the country would lose an equivalent of 16 percent in terms of the gross domestic product should farmers abandon the use of pesticides and herbicides in their farming practices.

“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 Dr Njagi in a meeting organised by Science Kenya Africa.

The researcher argued that limiting farmers’ access to necessary technologies would risk livelihoods and compromise food security.

Ms Shollei argues that the cancer-causing herbicides and pesticides banned in the United States and Europe were still being imported and sold in Kenya despite the health risks it poses to the people.

Pest Control Products Board general manager Paul Ngaruiya said they have started reviewing more than 200 pesticides used in the country following a request by the National Assembly in the light of the petition before Parliament on these chemical use.

In a bid to increase the food safety standards, the Pest Control Products Board says it has contracted more experts to start evaluating the said pesticides in the National Assemblypetition.

The board says it has completed the construction of the multi-million laboratory for testing of these products.

The official also said the laboratory would play a major role in minimising the interception of consignments to key markets due to high residue levels, which improper use of pesticides by farmers cause.