By Faith Atieno

Over 40 percent of our current production will crush without plant protection product, expert  says.

Ojepat Okisegere, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya said during an Agrochemical media workshop convened by Science Africa.

According to Okisegere, despite using some plant protection products, the country is not producing enough food thus with the implementation of the proposed ban, the country will become net importers of food.

Additionally, everything the country exports today, however minimal, are somehow plant protected hence, a ban will mean the country we will not be able to export.

Horticulture earnings alone are about Kshs. 150 billion ( about USD 150 million) therefore, if we ban pesticides today, we lose our revenue, he said.

Okisegere noted that the temperature in Kenya is about 20-30 degrees Celsius, where all the pests will always prevail therefore the use of plant protection products will not stop as long we continue being in existence.

“We can never stop use of plant protection products as long as we continue belonging and living in the tropics,” he said.

In his recommendation, Okisegere pinpointed that to increase productivity and ensure we get to feed the people with self produce, the county government, development partners, the agrochemical industry and the fourth estate need to educate the masses.

He added that the government needs to empower pest control and products board (PCPB) by increasing their budgetary allocation to allow them to do their work and undertake research required and develop robust systems.

“On one side parliament is putting pressure on PCPB but on the other side they are not giving them money to be able to undertake the assignment,” remarked the CEO as he urged the lawmakers to make decisions on facts and science rather than emotions.

As far as food consumption is concerned, he mentioned that in line with local standards, Kenya launched it’s first mark of quality on the fresh produce, the KS 1758 which will help track all the food that we eat in the domestic market places.

“It’s true that we launched KS 1758 the other day, we are currently sensitizing and we should be having the first certificate for KS 1758 out by the first week of December 2021,” said Okisegere, adding that the first batch deals with horticulture while the second deals with fruits and vegetables.

He recognized that the launch is a development because previously Kenya has been using standards from outside and not our domestic standard.

In a bid to improve the market, he mentioned that there are existing partnerships with the European Union (EU) as markets are being opened in Russia and taking advantage of the intra-African free trade area, “it’s not going to be business as usual,” he said.