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Experts oppose proposal to ban pesticide imports

By George Kebaso
Wednesday, February 5th, 2020
Agrochemicals Association of Kenya liaison manager Joel Mutai addresses the press in Nairobi, yesterday. Photo/PD/ALEX MBURU
In summary
    • According to a petition filed in Parliament, some pesticides  are classified as carcinogenic (24 products), mutagenic (24 products), endocrine disrupter (35 products), neurotoxin (140 products).
    • Others allegedly show clear effects of reproduction toxicity (262 products), many of which have been banned in Europe, United Kingdom and USA.

George Kebaso @Morarak

Chemical manufacturers have raised concern  over a proposal to ban pesticide imports, saying this will have a long-term impact on food production.

The experts argued that any policy change will lead to huge economic losses, and may defeat efforts to control numerous pests, weeds, and other crop diseases.

They are particularly concerned over the proposal to ban Fenithrotion, which they said is effective in combating  locusts.

Joel Mutai, the regulatory manager at Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) said the petition by some civil society organisations to Parliament in September last year lacked a consultative approach.

“If the call for a ban on importation of 262 pesticides succeeds, it will be catastrophic to the general economy of the country,” Mutai said yesterday at a press conference in Nairobi.

He said Kenya is a signatory to pesticides bans under the Rotterdam, Stockholm,  and Basel conventions, including the Montreal Protocol on substances that depletes the ozone layer.

“... the government, through its various regulatory agencies cannot allow entry of harmful pesticides,” he said.

Explain use

Pesticide Control Products Board manager in charge of Compliance, Margaret Maumba, said Kenya bans every pesticide banned under the listed conventions. 

In November last year, Uasin Gishu Woman Representative, Gladys Shollei petitioned the government to ban the importation of pesticides, which she said have proved to be harmful to the environment.

According to Shollei’s petition on behalf of three lobby groups in 2015, Kenya imported 6,400 tonnes of pesticides, which rose to 15,600 tonnes by December 2018. 

“Despite the increasing imports, there is no data available that can explain the use of pesticides, the concentration of pesticides in water, soil and food and their impact,” the petition reads.

The organisations are Biodiversity and Biosafety Association of Kenya, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network, Resources oriented Development Initiatives and Route to Food Imitative.