By Naomi Kitur

The proposed ban on agrochemicals will have adverse effects on food security, incomes especially for the small holder famers and the country’s economy and does not also guarantee food safety, according to Dr. Timothy Njagi,  Development Economist, Tegemeo Institute.

A petition was launched in the National Assembly seeking a total ban on agrochemicals that have been banned in the Europe Union.

Speaking at an agricultural training convened by Science Africa, he said the petition alleged that pesticides have adverse effects on humans, animals, wildlife and environmental health.

Also, the lack of regulatory oversight in their use and disposal and claims of profiteering by agrochemical industry at the expense of human, animal, wildlife and environmental health has been pushed back by agricultural stakeholders, explained Dr. Njagi.

Dr. Njagi giving a presentation at the workshop

According to Tegemeo Institute’s Study on The Impacts of Withdrawal of Agrochemicals on Agricultural Value Chain in Kenya, a ban on the use of agrochemicals would reduce production and thereby increasing reliance on imports.

He adds that it will also cause an increase in post-harvest losses which will in turn have adverse effects on poor households.

‘’Lower productivity due to less use of pesticides will push the rise of imports to meet demand and this will disadvantage local farmers at the expense of foreign farmers,’’ said Dr. Njagi while speaking at a media workshop.

Kenya has no capacity to institute safety measures at the border points to check food imports, therefore it will be difficult to ensure that the food that enters into the country is safe he further explained.

The potential impact of the ban of agrochemicals on agriculture value chain could be adverse if not controlled. On maize for example, if clothianidin, an ingredient used to control maize lethal necrosis is banned, 50%- 90% of yield losses will be incurred according to a Research by Tegemeo Institute.

The estimated economic impact according to the study will amount to USD 356 million loss, in maize alone.

However, according to Dr. Njagi, alternative proposals for ensuring safe use and disposal of pesticides is likely to lead to better overall outcomes including achieving the objectives of the proposed ban. The ban should be the last resort, he reiterated.

He further stated that industries have made responses and initiatives towards use of pesticides by providing farmer training through mobile apps, ensuring products are well labelled and that there is proper disposal of pesticide containers.

Some participants at the agricultural workshop

An expert on Kenyan Fresh Produce, Dr. Okiserege stated that banning agrochemicals means that Kenya’s exports will crash and so there is need to educate the masses on plant protection products.

‘’Pest attack leads to high yield losses, thus threatening food security hence there is need for management interventions to reduce losses and ensure food security, ” he said.

Products should continue to be regulated to filter out counterfeits and to ensure the safety of the citizens. There is need to work together with stakeholders including the media to sensitize the public on responsible use of Pest Control Products Board  (PCPB),”said another expert, Dr. Paul Ngaruiya ,Acting General Manager, Research, Strategy and Planning, PCPB.

He further recommended that there should be proper disposal of pesticide containers and properly calibrated equipment should be used and also, spray service providers should be supported to make pesticide application more professional.

According to Stella Simiyu, Director Regulatory Affairs and Stakeholder Relations, CropLife Africa and Middle East, farmers can experience up to 100% loss due to pests and diseases, however, use of pesticides should be based on the need.