PEST CONTROL

Kenyan farmers to have alternatives to toxic pesticides

Pest Control Products Board has registered 109 biopesticides farmers can use.

In Summary

• Other concerning active ingredients, such as Chlorpyrifos and Chlorothalonil, which are withdrawn in the EU, are still in use in Kenya.

• FAO recommends the use of Integrated Pest Management, which emphasizes the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques.

A worker sprays pesticides.
A worker sprays pesticides.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

The Pest Control Products Board has registered 109 biopesticides, which farmers can use as an alternative to plant protection products that pose risks to human health and the environment.

Biopesticides as a term referring to a substance derived from nature, such as a microorganism or botanical or semiochemical, which may be formulated and applied like conventional chemical pesticides.

Head of Research Strategy and Planning Paul Ngaruiya said they have 109 biopesticides registered for use in Kenya.

"Registration for biopesticides is incentivised through shorter and less costly registration processes," he said.

FAO recommends the use of Integrated Pest Management, which emphasizes the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques.

Speaking during a webinar Thursday, Silke Bollmohr, an ecotoxicologist and founder of EcoTrac Consulting, highlighted that various gaps exist in the registration process of pesticides in the Kenyan context.

“The decision process should ensure a high level of protection to human, animal health and environment, acknowledge current scientific and technical knowledge as well as the precautionary principle,” she said.

Jan Urhahn, from the  Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in South Africa, presented findings from a study that interrogated double standards in the global pesticides trade.

The study revealed that pesticide products and active ingredients that are banned in the EU due to health or environmental concerns are exported out of the EU by agrochemical companies and sold in other regions of the world including Kenya.

There is a violation of due diligence obligations in terms of human rights.

“Agrochemical companies benefit from weaker regulations in the Global South. These toxic pesticides have threatened the health of consumers and farmers causing 385 million unintended acute pesticides poisoning per year” Urhahn said.

PCPB has banned 40 pest control products mainly due to international agreements, with Dicofol banned early this year.

However, other concerning active ingredients, such as Chlorpyrifos and Chlorothalonil, which are withdrawn in the EU, are still in use in Kenya.

The National Assembly Health Committee in December 2020, directed that PCPB and other relevant government agencies undertake an analysis of harmful pesticides in the country and withdraw them from the market within 90 days.

The jury is out on whether this analysis will be independently implemented and include all stakeholders, particularly civil society organisations who have brought forward evidence and raised public health and safety concerns concerning chemical pesticides.