KENYA – In a shocking exposé, a report titled “Toxic Business: Highly Hazardous Pesticides in Kenya,” has shed light on the troubling agricultural practices in Kenya.

Despite the well-documented dangers posed by Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) to human health and the environment, Kenyan farmers continue to rely on them extensively, jeopardizing food safety and the nation’s ecological balance.

The comprehensive study, conducted by the Route to Food Initiative and funded by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Kenya, paints a grim picture of pesticide usage in the country.

Over the past few years, Kenya’s pesticide market has experienced a staggering surge, sparking concerns about the adverse effects of registered pesticides on both human well-being and the fragile ecosystem.

Alarmingly, limited progress has been made in implementing stricter regulations and phasing out toxic pesticides, raising significant concerns about food safety and the environmental impact.

The report exposes a dire need for immediate action to safeguard the nation’s health and environment.

Shocking statistics unveiled

An analysis of the data uncovered startling figures. In 2020, Kenyan farmers used a staggering total of 310 pesticide products, containing 151 active ingredients, to combat insects, diseases, and weeds across 26 different crops. Astonishingly, they spent a jaw-dropping U.S$72.7 million on these products.

Insecticides led the pack with expenditures of U.S$28.2 million, dominated by chlorpyrifos, flubendiamide, and imidacloprid. Herbicides followed closely at U.S$26.4 million, spearheaded by glyphosate and paraquat. Fungicides claimed U.S$18.1 million, with mancozeb as the leader.

Perhaps the most alarming revelation is that 63% of the 310 pesticide products used in Kenya contain one or two active ingredients categorized as Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs).

These HHPs constituted a staggering 76% of the total volume of pesticides used. Shockingly, 44% of these pesticides have already been banned in Europe due to their unacceptable risks to human health and the environment.

Key culprits and market leaders

The report uncovers the key culprits in Kenya’s pesticide market, with Syngenta taking the lead, commanding a substantial 20% market share.

Shockingly, Syngenta is responsible for selling 40 products with the highest volume of pesticides in Kenya, totaling a staggering 544 tonnes.

What’s particularly alarming is that a whopping 68% of these products fall under the Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs) category, underscoring the pressing need for reform.

Bayer AG follows closely with a 15% market share, offering 39 products, of which a troubling 84% are classified as HHPs.

Meanwhile, Corteva Agriscience, FMC Corporation, and Adama Agricultural Solutions hold significant but somewhat lesser market shares at 7.7%, 5.7%, and 4.4%, respectively.

This revelation highlights the urgent call for stringent regulations and a shift towards safer, more sustainable agricultural practices in Kenya to protect both human health and the environment.

Kenyan authorities, together with the agricultural industry, must work collaboratively to implement stringent regulations, phase out HHPs, and promote safer, sustainable farming practices.

Failure to act promptly could have dire consequences for the health of the nation’s citizens and the future of its ecosystems.

The European ban on several of these pesticides serves as a cautionary example for other regions, highlighting the importance of proactive measures in safeguarding public health.

PCPB, an agency that regulates the importation and exportation, manufacture, registration, distribution, and use of pesticides in the country, recently withdrew several widely-used pesticides, including Chlorothalonil, Diuron, Thiacloprid, Pymetrozine, Propineb, and Chlorpyrifos, from the market.

This seismic move followed mounting concerns about the detrimental impact of these chemicals on crops, livestock, and human well-being.

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