Proposed ban on pesticides puts Sh113b horticulture earnings at risk

Farmer spraying pesticide his crops in his greenhouse. [Standard]

Horticultural farmers risk losing a significant portion of their Sh113 billion annual earnings if a petition to ban harmful pesticides is passed in Parliament.

The petition seeking to outlaw use of some harmful pesticides could have adverse effects on the quality and quantity of the country’s exports.

Stakeholders in the agribusiness sub-sector said the Bill if passed, will increase the cost of production and raise levies charged on farmers.

They said regulations set by Government should not be a hindrance to business or introduce additional costs and complexities which would hurt small farmers and negatively affect their business.

"The petition seeks to increase levies charged on the movement of horticultural produce, and this will increase farmers’ cost of production," said Society of Crop Agribusiness Advisors Chief Executive Ricky Aguda.

Uasin Gishu Women Representative Gladys Boss Shollei last week filed a petition in Parliament, which calls for the withdrawal from the market of 262 pesticides and herbicides that have been found to be harmful to the environment and can cause diseases.

She said arguments by manufacturers that the users must wear protective gear before using the chemicals does not work in Kenya where most of the users are small-scale farmers who live below the poverty line.

Mr Aguda, however, wants the sub-sector to regulate itself to prevent an overlap that is not addressed by the Shollei petition.

"Agriculture is a devolved function, but the petition has an overlap of roles. There is no line between the national government and the county government,” he said.

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