CHARLES GICHANE NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – Kenya on Monday banned the use of popular pesticide Dimethoate on fruits and vegetables grown for domestic and export markets.
Agriculture Secretary Wilson Songa said that Kenya could lose over Sh20 billion in exports to the European Union if farmers fail to meet tightened EU regulations on Dimethoate maximum residual levels.
The pesticide has been popular with farmers due to its high efficiency in controlling pests in fruits and vegetables, along with its low price.
The EU reduced the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) of Dimethoate allowed on produce imported to the region in 2009 because the pesticide is an organophosphate and it’s known to be hazardous to the environment posing particular danger to marine life, bees and livestock.
It’s also thought to be a carcinogen, a substance that is directly associated with causing cancer.
Songa said that the Agriculture Ministry has embarked on an ambitious week-long farmer sensitisation campaign countrywide using the media, advertising and a road show to spread the message of urgency to stakeholders and small scale farmers.
He said that there are pesticides in the market that meet the EU regulations and urged farmers to visit www.pcpb.or.ke for a complete list of products that are safe alternatives.
“Among the alternatives available, few are as effective or affordable as Dimethoate in the control of the relevant pests, therefore it remains attractive,” he said.
“The lack of timely information on these very dynamic developments means that farmers are often unable to take necessary action.”
The chairman of the Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) A. K. Otieno said that its members asked to voluntarily withdraw the use of Dimethoate containing products from fruits and vegetables to reduce the number of interceptions of produce from Kenya to the EU, due to high MRL levels.
Along with the AAK, the Ministry of Agriculture is also teaming up with the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) in implement the ban before the expected EU inspection of the Kenyan official systems in coming months.
Others involved in the initiative are the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), and the United States Agency for International Development-Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (USAID-KHCP) .