By Zablon Oyugi
During the opening of this year’s Naivasha Horticultural Fair at the Naivasha Sports Club Grounds in Nakuru County last Friday, the Kenya-Netherlands collaboration in agriculture took a deep dive into the critical issue of sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) that concerns farmers and exporters.
This initiative is a continuation of the bilateral cooperation in agriculture between Kenya and the Netherlands, formalised by an agreement signed by the two parties in July of this year.
Bart Pauwels, Agriculture counsellor at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, inaugurated the event and emphasised the evolving role of SPS in international trade and agri-business. “SPS measures are now becoming a strategic tool for developing and differentiating markets, gaining market access, coordinating the quality and safety of the food system, and defining market niches for export products,” he said during the event.
As the demand for “green” products, produced sustainably with consideration for social and environmental aspects, continues to grow, Pauwels stressed the importance of increased collaboration, the exchange of innovative ideas, approaches, and experiences within the Kenyan agricultural sector.
Clearance of pesticides
Some of the concerns raised during the event included the extended clearance timelines for agro-chemicals used in crop production. According to the Pest Control Products (registration) Regulations of 2022, it can take up to five years for a pesticide to gain clearance for use in Kenya, a challenge that both farmers and manufacturers highlighted.
“The time is fairly long considering a number of issues and trials the chemicals have to be taken through to ensure they are not only effective for their intended purpose but also safe for humans and the environment,” Ms Sarah Wambugu, senior pesticide registration officer at the Pest Control Products Board, said explaining the reasons behind this extended timeline.
The event also addressed the possibility of granting temporary clearance permits for products approved for use in other markets, such as Europe, where a significant portion of Kenyan fresh produce is exported. Ms Wambugu indicated that such considerations are under evaluation, and guidelines may be forthcoming.
The Naivasha Horticultural Fair spotlighted the growing shift towards bio-protection in African agriculture, as reliance on artificial fertilisers and toxic pesticides has increased. Bio-protection approaches, including biopesticides and beneficial insects, offer alternatives to control harmful pests and diseases without affecting non-target organisms.
The fair featured various manufacturers and dealers in biocontrol products, including Dudutech, a Naivasha-based firm specialising in the development of biological products for comprehensive integrated crop management systems.
Ms Abigael Mchana, representing the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI), presented on this topic and highlighted CABI’s contribution through the launch of the CABI BioProtection Portal in Kenya in February 2020. This portal serves as the largest open-access database of biological plant protection products, offering valuable resources to promote awareness and adoption of environmentally friendly biocontrol and biopesticide products among growers and advisors, ultimately facilitating access to global markets while reducing SPS-related issues.
In addition to Bart Pauwels and Sarah Wambugu, representatives from other government regulatory bodies and organisations, including the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), the International Biopesticide Manufacturers Association (IBMA), the Kenya Flower Council (KFC), and private sector participants, were present at the Naivasha Horticultural Fair.