Horticulture sector producers lobby EU over pesticides

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Stakeholders in the horticulture sector want the European Union to agree on alternative pesticides for farming as it moves closer to restricting the use of over 200 chemicals that are used by local farmers.

EU wants to implement its “Green Deal” which will see the continent cut over 50 percent of the pesticides that Kenya uses, a move that will impact negatively on the country’s exports to the political and economic union.

Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya chief executive Okisegere Ojepati says they will be going to Brussels in March to try and convince Europe to relax the rules that require Kenya to ban at least 260 chemicals, failure to which the country’s produce will be restricted from accessing the lucrative market.

Mr Ojepati said they want EU to at least give an alternative of other chemicals that can be used in the meanwhile as they negotiate on the way forward before the ban is imposed.

“What we want now is to discuss on an alternative pesticide before they ban these pesticides,” said Mr Okisegere.

He said the ban on chemicals will have a negative impact on Kenya’s produce because the EU cannot accept fruits or vegetables that have been infested by insects but which can only be tamed by use of the chemicals that are set to be banned.

“The EU approach to pesticides cannot be the same as African farmers need inputs that may not be needed in Europe. Not only do we have tropical climatic conditions and different soils but pests unique to Africa like Fall Armyworm and desert Locusts,” Mr. Okisegere said.

This comes as Uasin Gishu County Women Representative, Gladys Boss Shollei is sponsoring a Bill in parliament aimed at banning the use of at least 200 chemicals locally.

The Egerton-based Tegemeo Institute of Research and Policy says the move will lead to 40 percent losses in food production.

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

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