Kenya chosen for Sh300m project to control pesticide use

Kenya selected from Africa while Uruguay will represent South American continent

In Summary
  • The new initiative will be implemented for five years until 2028.
  • It will support the two governments in reviewing policies and regulatory frameworks to control unwanted pesticides.
Farmer spraying pesticides
Farmer spraying pesticides
Image: CABI

Kenya is set to benefit from a new project seeking to tame the increased use of pesticides and agricultural plastic waste.

The Sh300 million project launched on Monday will develop alternatives for sustainable management of agrochemicals and agri-plastics in Africa and Latin America through pilots in Kenya and Uruguay.

Known as Financing Agrochemical and Agricultural Plastics Reduction and Management (Farm), the new initiative will be implemented for five years until 2028.

It will support the two governments in reviewing policies and regulatory frameworks to control unwanted pesticides, empty pesticide containers, and remove agricultural plastic waste from environmental pollution.

Kenya has witnessed a significant increase in acreage under crop intensification, especially for fresh produce for local and export markets.

This is healthy for the country, particularly because of the job creation and increased revenue.

However, the economic gains come at the cost of increased pesticide use and agricultural plastic waste, which increase human and environmental exposure to health risks.

Kenya has constantly received alerts on high levels of pesticide residues from overseas markets due to misuse of pesticides.

The negative impacts of climate change have also increased insect pests and diseases, leading to increased use of pesticides in agricultural production.

Environment PS Festus Ng’eno said agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy, with a contribution of about 22.4 per cent to the GDP, which compares to a regional average of 24.05 per cent and employs about 60 percent of the total workforce.

“Over the years, Kenya has recorded significant growth in the agriculture sector, which is a major user of pesticides, and more so in the persistent organic pollutants pesticides, highly hazardous pesticides, and agricultural plastics, which continue to pose serious risks to human and environmental health,” Ng’eno said.

PS Ng’eno’s speech was read on his behalf by Secretary for Administration in the State Department for Environment and Climate Change, John Elungata.

The PS said the use of pesticides has soared exponentially in the last 30 years, with over 200,000 metric tons applied annually.

“In parallel, the use of agricultural plastics is increasing, with 10 per cent of the one million metric tons used annually in plant and animal production being directly used for agriculture while 50 per cent is used for food packaging,” Ng’eno said.

Agriculture was identified as a major contributor to the triple planetary crisis of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change during the sixth session of the UN Environmental Assembly.

Ng’eno said the sector generates about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions and is responsible for over 60 per cent of biodiversity loss.

The current production systems largely favour the use of more agrochemicals, especially more toxic pesticides and agricultural plastics, to increase yields.

Food production in Kenya is primarily centred on small-scale producers and livestock holders, characterised by poor yields and subsistence.

In addition, there are large-scale horticultural enterprises that use pesticides and agricultural plastics intensively. 

Nema estimates that there are about 50,000 metric tons of non-hazardous agricultural plastic waste produced per year. 

Agricultural films (greenhouse covers and mulch) account for about 70–90 peer cent of agricultural plastic; irrigation pipes, twines, and nets comprise about 25 per cent, and pesticide and fertiliser containers comprise about  three per cent of agricultural plastic.

Most agricultural films and irrigation products are used for commercial horticulture.

Ng’eno said the country is committed to realising the achievement of the new project.

FAO Representative in Kenya, Carla Mucavi, said the launch of the new project is the culmination of a long and intensive consultative process.

Mucavi said Kenya has recorded a significant increase in crop intensification that has seen the country ranked the fourth largest exporter of horticultural products in Africa.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star