The Pesticide Management Initiative East African Region: Kenya pesticides management for sustainable agriculture in Kenya

Food producers in Kenya are progressively intensifying their production to meet the domestic and export market demands. Often, this is closely associated with an increased use of Agrochemicals. When not managed well, pesticides may lead to resistance of plant pests and diseases, adverse health effects to farmers and consumers as well as environmental degradation. At the same time, consumers and markets are becoming stricter in terms on food safety requirements and associated residues levels. Kenya’s product is now under more scrutiny in the European Union with the recent change from 5% to 10% inspection rate on the Kenyan beans. This change was effective in May 2020 although discussions began much earlier.

Farmers in Kenya are progressively intensifying their agricultural production to meet the domestic and export market demands

With this backdrop the Pesticide Management Initiative East African Region (PEAR) project was formed. The project is an initiative between Kenya and the Netherlands and took place from 2016 to March 2020. The project worked on sustainable pesticide management (Integrated Pest Management - IPM), food safety and reduction of pesticide use risks. PEAR aimed at availing alternative low risk chemical products and biological control products in a timely manner to the producers. The project achieved this through improving the structure and registration procedures for pesticides, including bio pesticides. In doing so, the project is set to regulate excessive pesticide use by farmers by stimulating adoption of IPM.

The cooperation resulted in attaining the following results

  1. Benchmarking Kenyan registration procedures and risk assessment against international practices.
  2. Making low risk and biological product available through a fast-track registration.
  3. A survey was conducted to assess the use of pesticides, the level of awareness and the use of personal protective equipment by farmers growing tomato and kale.
  4. Curriculum development for IPM training on judicious pesticide use.

Benchmarking registration procedures and risk assessment against international practices

The PEAR project assessed the administrative procedures for registration and benchmarked these against international practices. The time needed for each of the steps in the process between submission of a dossier and approval was reviewed to shorten it. The Pest Control Product Board (PCPB) is yet to implement some of these changes since they have to go through a legal process. Two of the proposed changes on which PCPB has already presented to their Board are to revise registration fees and increase the time until renewal from 3 to 5 years. As a higher fee at submission of dossiers can be an incentive for the applicants to send in complete dossiers, which remains a challenge.

As the result of an exposure visit to the Dutch Board for Authorization of Plant Protection Products (CTGB), PCPB is also starting a pilot with submission of digital formats of the dossier. A transparent procedure to improve and speed up the evaluation of generics, products of which the active ingredient is off patent, has been developed as PCPB receives many of these products.

Agrochemical store for farmers

Moreover, to further professionalize the system, PCPB developed risk assessment procedures and trained staff. Proposed procedures are now laid down in the guidance document for dossier evaluation. During an industry information and sensitisation meeting in November 2019 the implications of the proposed new procedures were discussed. Proposed changes were well received. It is now up to PCPB and stakeholders to further implement them.

Making low risk and biological products available through registration

Kenya has already many biological products registered and is one of the countries that implemented specific data requirements for biological products already at an early stage. To further enhance the process, specific criteria were developed for a fast track registration procedure for products that are considered of low risk. These can be biocontrol products but also products with active ingredients of chemical origin. Specifically for products based on microorganisms, procedures were developed and staff was trained. Both the fast track procedure and the procedure for the registration of microbial products are explained in the guidance document for dossier evaluation.

With the right inputs, farmers can increase yield

Survey on pesticide use and food safety

To identify pesticide use and residues levels in two common vegetables (tomato and kales) grown for the domestic market a survey was conducted in 2020. The survey looked at farmer’s awareness of the risk of pesticides in comparison to the use at farm level. The survey also evaluated farmer’s knowledge on personal protective equipment, their use and storage. 300 small-scale farmers in 3 counties, i.e. Nyandarua, Kirinyaga and Nyeri participated in the study. Samples for each crop were collected and analysed for residue levels in a food analytical laboratory. The survey indicated that although farmers read the labels, few had a good understanding of them. The survey confirmed that respondents who had attended more trainings had a higher level of awareness of risks associated with pesticides use to consumers, animals and the environment. The survey will be published after completion on the PCPB website.

Align IPM/ judicious pesticide use training

The survey underlines the importance of a good training. Many Kenyan organisations offer trainings on judicious pesticide use and IPM. However, a common understanding on the content of such trainings is lacking. To align the existing trainings a working group, led by PCPB, was established to develop a consolidated curriculum. A Competence Based Curriculum with clearly defined objectives regarding knowledge, skills and attitude was then developed. The curriculum is practice oriented and standards were set by the industry. Guidance was provided by the TVET Curriculum Assessment and Certification Council (CDACC) who also approved it. The curriculum is now taken up in the list of approved occupational standards and curricula. You can find the underlying documentation including a learner’s guide here. The working group decided to continue supporting the IPM curriculum and to start piloting soon.

Knowledge, skills and attitude are essential for the use of pesticides

PCPB and the advisory committee agreed on ensuring sustainability of the project through the implementation of agreed procedures as indicated in the report. PCPB also plans to work on the findings and the recommendations of the survey that was carried out. They plan to replicate the survey nationally and increase the number variety of crops to be surveyed. PCPB will also seek partnership with organizations such as COLEACP (Association of companies and experts working towards sustainable agriculture), who are working on ensuring market accessibility of horticultural produce through the reduction maximum residue levels.

Working together with the members of the advisory committee, who comprised of the private sector, public sector, learning and research institutions proved to be a successful strategy to address emerging issues.

For more questions regarding the PEAR project you can contact: In the Netherlands; Louise Wipfler - and Kenya, Emily Osena - for any other questions, suggestions or to sign up for our quarterly newsletter please send an email to you can also follow us on twitter to stay up to date: Follow @NLAgriKenya.