List of Crops Sprayed With Poisonous Pesticides

Five common crops in the Kenyan market have been identified as contaminated with toxins due to the extensive use of pesticides, herbicides, and insecticides during their cultivation, a new report shows.

According to the report published by The Route to Food Initiative (RTFI) on Wednesday, the crops, namely maize, wheat, coffee, potatoes, and tomatoes, not only require the largest volumes of pesticides but also contain the highest levels of Highly Hazardous Pesticides (HHPs). 

Notably, coffee production in Kenya was found to heavily rely on the application of highly hazardous insecticides, fungicides, and herbicides. 

In the same vein, the cultivation of tomatoes and potatoes in Kenya revealed significant usage of hazardous mancozeb.

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (left) and his wife Pastor Dorcas Rigathi (in red) at a coffee plantation on April 8, 2023


Mancozeb is a chemical often used in farming to protect crops from diseases and fungi; it forms a protective barrier on plants, preventing them from contracting diseases, but excessive use can lead to environmental and health concerns.

Mancozeb is banned in the EU and has been linked to cancer but Kenyan farmers continue using it on their crops.

The report found out that Kenyan farmers also used bifenthrin, dichlorvos, diazinon, carbaryl, fipronil, thiamethoxam, and carbendazim which have already been banned in Europe due to their adverse effects on human health.

According to the report, most of these chemicals are manufactured in Europe and have been banned in their countries of origin. 

RTFI’s findings indicate that 44 per cent of the pesticides used in Kenya have been prohibited in their region of origin, Europe, owing to their deemed hazards to both human health and the environment.

“Out of the 310 pesticide products used, 195 products (63 per cent) containing one or two active ingredients that are categorized as HHPs, accounting for 76 per cent of the total volume of pesticides used,” RTFI said in its report. 

“This indicates that farmers in Kenya predominantly use HHPs, despite their known detrimental effects on human health and the environment.”

RTFI recommended that Kenya should gradually eliminate the use of products containing harmful ingredients.

Additionally, the government and other key stakeholders in the agriculture sector have been urged to support research efforts to develop and promote biopesticides and biocontrol methods as alternatives to HHPs.

“Make biopesticides affordable for all farmers, regardless of whether they export their products to Europe or not. This will encourage the widespread adoption of sustainable pest management practices, benefiting small-scale farmers,” the report recommended further. 

The government was also asked to hold agrochemical companies accountable by regulating and monitoring their activities and encouraging responsible practices that prioritize human health, environmental protection, and sustainable agriculture.

A photo of a maize farm in Uyoma, Siaya County taken on March 4, 2023.


Washington Mito

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