EU plans total ban on Kenyan produced fresh foods over pesticides

Kenyan farmers are likely to be locked out of European markets for applying poisoned agrochemicals on farms

By James Wafula in Nairobi

Kenyans consume high levels of chemical toxins in vegetables, maize and fruits that are produced locally and are slowly dying from it, according to recent studies. The revelation has prompted the European Union (EU) to impose a ban on fresh produce from Nairobi. 

The study was conducted by agricultural researchers and biologists and it discovered that Kenya’s fresh produce contained high “carcinogenic” toxins and therefore unfit for “human consumption”

Freshly produced vegetables on a Kenyan market shelf

EU disclosed that it will adopt the new Sustainable Use of Pesticides Policy which has blacklisted Kenya fresh food produce. This will lock out the lucrative EU market to Kenyan farmers. Marketers are urging Kenyan farmers to seek out new markets in the US, China, Thailand, the Middle East and India. The news is also disturbing for Kenyan local consumers of the product, who are now accusing the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Kenya consumers watchdogs of sleeping on the job. 

Experts from the Agrochemical Association of Kenya and Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya told This writer that if the policy is ratified, annual earnings from fresh produce in Kenya will dip significantly

They said we are being poisoned slowly while government agencies “do nothing”. Kenya’s battered economy still smarting from the Covid -19 pandemic, is set to face a Ksh.105 billion in lost revenue annually once the EU adopts the new policy. This is quite disturbing news for many Kenyans, faced with a debt-battered economy and a regime battling to stay on its feet as a result of squabbles within the executive, unable to remit funds to county governments and pay staff on time. 

Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei recently presented a petition to the National Assembly seeking to ban the use of some pesticides to align with the EU recommendations

A section of Kenyans, angry at the news told The Weekly Vision that the government agencies staff members draw huge pays in monthly wages but are doing nothing to protect unsuspecting local consumers from the contaminated produce endangering our health. They have demanded that the government, researchers and scientists clarify the EU planned ban. “We should either stop using the pesticides or refuse to consume the produce”, an angry Kenyan said. Experts from the Agrochemical Association of Kenya and Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya told This writer that if the policy is ratified, annual earnings from fresh produce in Kenya will dip significantly. 

Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei recently presented a petition to the National Assembly seeking to ban the use of some pesticides to align with the EU recommendations. The pesticides classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic and all others that show the effect on reproduction toxicity are to be outlawed if the petition sails through.

However, this has led to a clash with the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya boss – Okisegere Ojepata, who argued that banning the pesticides in the country would reportedly reduce output by half, which will make the country a net importer of food. He further insisted that if these changes must be made, then it must be on a negotiated basis to find viable alternatives. 

“There are certain pests in Africa that cannot survive in EU because their temperatures go to as low as -4 degrees, while here it can be as high as 38 degrees. We are at a crossroads, but we will not allow certain things to happen,” he explained. The study has shown that maize, sukuma wiki, and tomatoes grown in Kenya have been grown using Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).

According to the studies, chemical-laced sukuma wiki sold in Kenyan Markets affects eyes, skin, hormonal and reproductive system. These HHPs are known to have been banned in the EU and most recently in the US, but are still available and sold on the Kenyan market.

According to the World Health Organization, HHPs are dangerous to human health, animals, and the environment. Through misuse of pesticides, including overuse, chemical substances may end up contaminating water, air and soil, with adverse effects on plants and wildlife, and a loss of biodiversity in general.

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