Major drive to purge use of Dimethoate

February 6, 2012
Vegetables in Kenyan market/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – The horticulture industry is working with the government to implement traceability in the crop market, as they continue to tour the country to promote the banning of the Dimethoate chemical in pesticides.

Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) CEO Stephen Mbithi said that the traceability project will cost Sh15 million to Sh20 million in the next four to six months for export trading and no less than Sh50 million in the domestic market.

“We would like to have a database of all farmers in Kenya who produce fruits and vegetables so that when produce is presented for trade in cartons, the cartons have coding that shows that it came from ‘farmer X’ from ‘region Y’ and therefore in the event that a consumer falls ill because of a product, he can trace it back to the farmer,” he said.

The government banned the chemical from pesticides used on fruits and vegetables after US$238 million (Sh20 billion) worth of exports were denied entry to the European Union market last year.

Dimethoate is a carcinogenic and it also poses dangers to marine life, bees and livestock but it’s popular to farmers because it’s highly effective and cheap.

Mbithi says that the government has decided that all agrochemical products that contain the substance will be relabelled so that the words “fruits and vegetables” are omitted.

“There are alternatives to Dimethoate and even though they are more expensive, they are more effective, which reduces costs for farmers because they will be using them less,” he said.

The agrochemical industry has put up 19 billboards across the country in the major horticulture producing areas urging farmers to read the labels using their slogan “Soma Lebo”.

Mbithi said they are also launching GLOBALG.A.P (Good Agricultural Practices) Swahili in Berlin, Germany on February 9 in an effort to communicate more effectively with East African farmers.

GLOBALG.A.P is a private sector body that sets voluntary standards for the certification of production processes of agricultural products around the globe.

The standard is meant to reassure consumers about how food is produced on the farm by minimising detrimental environmental impacts of farming operations, reducing the use of chemical inputs and ensuring a responsible approach to worker health and safety as well as animal welfare.

From 8 to 10 February 2012, more than 2,400 companies from across the entire fresh produce value chain will be present in Berlin – including global players as well as small and medium-sized suppliers from all around the world.

FPEAK is in charge of the project for translating the GLOBALG.A.P (formerly EurepGAP) standard for fruits, vegetables and flowers from English to Swahili, for ease of readership by rural farmers.

“We believe that we should communicate to our farmers in a language they can understand and we are convinced that many times they don’t comply to standards because we speak to them in English, so I think it’s time we speak to them in Swahili,” he said.

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