By Sharon Atieno

The European Union (EU)’s green deal strategy which seeks to make Europe the first carbon neutral continent by 2050 through the implementation of three strategies which includes farm to fork strategy, the biodiversity strategy and the chemical strategy for sustainability, might have grievous implications on the continent.

Speaking to Science Africa, Stella Simiyu, Director for Regulatory Affairs and Stakeholder Relations, CropLife Africa and Middle East said there is need to contextualize the green deal policy into the current African situation where there are existing production challenges.

Looking at the strategies, she said the farm to fork strategy which includes 50% reduction of the use and risk of chemical pesticides, would have a negative impact on food production and export crops, if the matter is not contextualized.

This is because Africa is yet to experience a green revolution and currently uses only about 3-4% of the global pesticide use, Simiyu stated.

Green revolution led to increased food production as a result of agricultural advancements including the introduction of high-yielding varieties of seeds, use of pesticides and herbicides, and better management techniques.

For reduction of use of inputs, she observed that the current production levels of foods like maize use fertilizer, therefore if the input is cut by 50%, the level of harvest anticipated will not be the same and being a food security crop, it means it won’t be enough.

“If you take crop by crop; a crop that uses pesticides for instance horticulture, if you don’t use the required pesticides will that farmer export the same quantities of food?” Simiyu asked, adding,

“You really have to put it in the context of what food? Who is consuming that food? What is the level of production now? So that if you cut and paste that policy then it means you are going to affect the way production is happening to the negative.”

In terms of zero pollution, she noted that the biggest impact is the regulatory and policy statutes because countries will be cutting and pasting a policy that is more beneficial to the EU at the beginning.

This will result in a high cost of compliance, Simiyu said, noting that in some sectors there will be loss especially in the production of food and in continuing the export market for agricultural commodities.

She noted that there is need to look at country policies and adapt slowly in order to ensure that food is produced sustainably. “We need to look at where we are, set the baseline then start from there. Incrementally improve the system of production and the environment so that we are not polluting it but safeguarding it for the future,” Simiyu stated.

She said that before embarking on any change in the agricultural sector such as banning of pesticides, agricultural practitioners need to look to science.

“Let us promote technologies that support our farmers to achieve our ‘green revolution’ so that there is enough food and agricultural production to help them have their livelihoods,” Simiyu urged, noting that countries like Kenya are dependent on agriculture.

“As much as we are in a global environment and we are bound to respond to markets, let us remember that the first responsibility as a country is to feed our people and feed them with good food, then help them to produce and be able to make living out of the production.”