By Saumu Juma
The Kenya Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) has put strict measures to ensure that all pesticides are safe for use and in line with the policies required by the pesticide industry.
The measures include proper labelling of products to guide the user and frequent inspections to pesticide dealers in order to reduce the number of agro-chemical counterfeit products that stand at about 15-20% according to the Agro-chemical Association of Kenya.
Speaking at a workshop convened by Science Africa on 17th November, 2021, Dr. Paul N. Ngaruiya, Acting General Manager, Research, Strategy and Planning, PCPB said that the board is making more follow ups on regulatory issues because fraudsters are coming up with more ways to pave their way through the pesticide market with counterfeit trade alone resulting to between 100-120 million losses annually in the country.
Dr. Ngaruiya noted that there is a regulation which requires that no product can be used in Kenya without a label.
“We have our inspectors who go round, if they find any product without a label, then they cease the product. The label has to be approved by the board, we compare the data that we have in our systems and once we are satisfied that the information is accurate then we approve the product,” he said.
According to Dr. Ngaruiya, the labels guide the farmer with information symbolized by the color of the label- red means it is very toxic, followed by yellow, blue then green which is the least toxic as well as pictograms that show how the product is supposed to be stored and how the farmers should put on protective gears when handling the chemicals.
He added that the hazardous messages are written in both English and Swahili languages to enable understanding among local users in the rural areas.
Dr. Ngaruiya said that the board is conducting inspections countrywide whereby premises that deal with pesticides have to be checked to prevent circulation of fake products which pose a threat to farmers and consumers of the food products where the pesticides were used.
“There is a team of inspectors who go round checking the quality of the products that we have. They monitor the products that are in shops and factories to make sure that what is being approved is what is being sold and we collaborate very closely with the police and the counterfeit Agency so that in case they hear or see any product that is suspicious, they link up with our inspectors”, he said.
In addition, the board has requested for supplementary budget allocation for pesticides which will be used to purchase more equipment in their analytical laboratory which is currently undertaking quality analysis of pesticide formulation in the market.
Annually, PCPB analyzes about 358 samples collected from various agricultural productive counties in the country. There is an ongoing project for construction of a laboratory which will house a residue factory which will serve as a monitoring ground and surveillance of pesticide residues in produce destined for the local and international market, water and soils.
Dr. Ngaruiya added that more measures have been put in place for standardization of imports and exports in the country to ensure that the products align with the safety of the farmers and consumers.
“When it comes to importing, not everybody can import a product, we have the local agent, and it is also only those distributors who have been given consent by a manufacturer or the local agent who can import that product. Whatever goes into the market, if it is imported through the right channel then it is of known quality”, he explained.