KENYA – The County Government of Nakuru, in collaboration with the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), has initiated a comprehensive campaign called ‘Ukulima True’ to address the risks associated with pesticide use in the food value chain.

By raising awareness and promoting environmentally friendly bio-control and bio-practice products, the county aims to ensure food safety, protect biodiversity, and encourage sustainable agricultural practices.

The initiative, which runs until December 2023, emphasizes the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) by smallholder farmers to minimize the contamination of produce with harmful pathogens and agrochemicals.

Dr. Monica Kansiime, Deputy Director of CABI Africa, highlighted the adverse effects of excessive pesticide use on biodiversity, beneficial insect populations, and food safety.

The ‘Ukulima True’ campaign aims to educate farmers about the importance of GAPs throughout the entire crop production process, from field preparation to harvest, storage, and marketing.

Dr. Kansiime emphasized the need to prioritize food safety guidelines and regulations for domestic consumption alongside export standards.

Farmers can build resilient systems and mitigate the risks associated with pesticides by adopting integrated crop management and pest and disease management practices.

The training session conducted by Dr. Kansiime for 30 farmer groups in Subukia Sub-County was part of the larger effort to align Kenya’s food production systems with international sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

In promoting farm hygiene, timely planting, and diversified and resilient cropping systems, the campaign aims to ensure pest and disease-free farms.

Kenya’s commitment to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Protocol underscores the importance of safe food production without hindering international trade.

Bio Protection Portal

CABI’s Bio Protection Portal plays a vital role in the campaign by providing farmers with access to safer and environmentally friendly bio-control and bio-pesticide products.

The portal serves as a comprehensive resource for integrated pest management plans, empowering growers to combat crop pests effectively.

Additionally, the campaign focuses on soil health improvement, crop diversification, rotation, and intercropping to enhance natural pest control mechanisms and physical barriers against insects.

Miriam Kinyanjui, County Agribusiness Officer, highlighted the persistence of pesticides in the environment, their impact on water resources, and the threat they pose to ecological systems.

The County Government is taking proactive measures to train and register spray service providers and educate farmers about sustainable and safe food production practices.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO’s) estimation of pesticide-related poisonings and deaths further emphasizes the urgency of reducing pesticide risks.

The campaign aims to comply with European market rules to prevent interception of Kenyan horticultural products due to excessive pesticide residues.

Enhancing regulation and education

Kinyanjui stressed the need to strengthen pesticide risk regulation, research, and education to find alternatives to banned pesticides and prevent their importation.

The Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) has banned 43 products and restricted the use of five others, and it is working with international partners to provide training and guidance to Kenyans.

Proper labeling and responsible use of agrochemicals, along with increased surveillance and monitoring at ports of entry, are critical to curbing the smuggling of banned substances into the country.

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