Read Towards Reducing Synthetic Pesticide Imports in Favour of Locally Available Botanicals in Kenya text version

Tropentag 2006 Bonn, October 11-13, 2006

Conference on International Agricultural Research for Development

Towards reducing synthetic pesticide imports in favour of locally available botanicals in Kenya Birech Rhoda1, Bernhard Freyer2, Joseph Macharia1

Department of Crops, Horticulture and Soils, Egerton University, Kenya, 2Institute of Farming, BOKU University, Austria.




Pests and diseases are responsible for 30-40% loss in agricultural produce in the tropics. The most conventional and common way of pest and disease control is through the use of pesticides. These pesticides are largely synthetic compounds which kill or deter the destructive activity of the target organism. Unfortunately, these compounds posses inherent toxicities that endanger the health of the farm operator, consumer and the environment. Kenya imports approximately 7,000 metric tones of synthetic pesticides annually, valued at KShs. 4 billion (US$ 50 million). These pesticides are an assortment of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides fumigants, rodenticides, growth regulators, defoliators, proteins, surfactants and wetting agents. Of the total pesticide imports, insecticides account for about 40% in terms of volume (2,900 metric tones) and 50% of the total cost of pesticide imports. The current concern is on the health hazards posed by the presence of these chemicals in the environment. The situation in Kenya is aggravated when cases of pesticide misuse occur due to farmers' ignorance and illiteracy. Kenyan farmers, especially those from pastoral communities have lost herds of cattle after spraying insecticides instead of acaricides. Sale of fake, expired or banned pesticides is also common. Incidentally, Kenya is the leading producer of a natural pesticide, pyrethrin, which is a broad-spectrum insecticide made from the dried flowers of pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium). The crop has been grown in Kenya for export purposes for the last 70 years. Up to 8,000 tonnes of dried flowers are produced annually. Ninety five percent of all the crude pyrethrin is exported to developed countries in the west; 60% to USA and 35% to Europe. Only 5% is used in Africa; Egypt and South Africa take 2% each and only 1% remains in Kenya. It is a paradox that Kenya exports nearly all its natural insecticides, only to import synthetic ones. Pyrethrin-based insecticides can well replace most of the imported synthetics. This would reduce the health risk that the synthetics pose. The major problem is that the Kenyan pyrethrins earn a premium price in the more environmentally conscious developed countries so that Kenyans are left with the option of importing the cheaper synthetics or pyrethrin analogs. This scenario raises questions on the willingness and ability of developing countries to pay for better environmental health. This paper recognizes research challenges and discusses possible ways through which developing countries can adopt more environmentally friendly agricultural protection measures. These include promotion of locally available botanicals like pyrethrum and neem (Azadirachta indica), awareness campaigns on safe use of pesticides, biopesticide legislation, favourable government policies, and more funding for biopesticide research and commercialization. Data reported was obtained from interviews with

key informants drawn from the Kenya Pesticide Control Board, Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, and local firms which are major consumers of imported pesticides. Keywords: Synthetic pesticides, biopesticides, pyrethrin, neem, natural enemies


Revolution in pest management occurred seven decades ago with the discovery and use of organochlorines, organophosphates, carbamates and more recently pyrethroids. These chemical pesticides became the main tool in pest management for public health, livestock and crop protection and their use led to substantial suppression of pests. However, it was discovered over time that these chemicals are no entirely harmless to other forms of life. The pesticides would also kill non-target organisms such as beneficial insects vertebrates both in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Some were extremely persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and would undergo bio-accumulation through the food chain. Their active ingredients and metabolites were also found to impair mammalian endocrine system, nervous systems and some were carcinogenic. Insects also quickly developed resistance to some of the pesticides. These concerns finally led to strict restrictions and absolute banning of some chemical pesticides and a search for natural and environmentally friendly products began. In consequence, during the last two decades, a great deal of research has been undertaken to identify non-chemical pest control alternatives. Unfortunately, production, availability and flow of these products in Kenya have been constrained by a number of factors, including lack of specific national registration and lack of mass production protocol. This paper gives an overview of the pesticide usage in Kenya, suggests alternatives to synthetics and proposes ways of strengthening the bio-pesticide industry in Kenya.

The use of pesticides in Kenya

- Pesticide imports and exports

Approximately 7047 metric tonnes of the pesticides with a value of US$ 50 million ( 4.0 billion Kenya shillings) were imported into the country in 2005 (PCPB, 2005). The major active substances imported during the year were glyphosate, Mancozeb, Amitraz, Copper oxycholide, 1,3-dichloropropene, 2,4-D Amine, Sulphur, Dimethoate and Methyl bromide in order of decreasing volume. In the year, more insecticides were imported in comparison to the other pesticide groups. The pesticides value contributed to more than 50% of the total value of pesticides imported during the year. In 2005, approximately 63 metric tonnes of pesticides worth US$ 700,000 (Kshs. 55 million) were exported from Kenya to the neighbouring countries (mainly Seychelles, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania) (PCPB, 2005). The pesticides exported were mainly cypermethrin, chorofenvinphos and permethrin + pirimiphos. These are mainly synthetic pyrethroid. These figures exclude exports of crude pyrethrin done by the pyrethrum board of Kenya which amount to 6000 tonnes annually. The export figure may be more because some dealers may be exporting pesticides without the board's knowledge.

- Registration of synthetic pesticides and biopesticides in Kenya

The registration of pesticides in Kenya is governed by the Pest Control Products Act, Cap 346 of the Laws of Kenya. Since the law was enacted in 1982, many conventional chemical pesticides and biopesticides have been registered for use in Kenya. In 2003, over 620 pest control agents had been registered, of which, 30 are derived from natural materials such as plants and microbes (Ngaruiya, 2004). Most of the biopesticides so far registered in Kenya are based on pyrethrum extracts and those derived from Bacillus thuringensis (Bt). Over the last decade, applications for registration of biopesticides have increased with active ingredients derived from pyrethrin, warbugia and azadirachtin as well as microorganisms such as Beauveria bussiana, Bacillus thuringensis, (insecticide), Pseudomonas fluorescens, Trichoderma harzianum (fungicide), Paecilomyces lilacinus spores (Nematocide) (PCPB, 2005).

- Incidences of pesticide misuse in Kenya

Abuse and misuse of insecticides is common in Africa and, although the use of pesticides in Africa represents a small fraction of the global total, misuse is disproportionately high Factors that lead to these high rates include the high illiteracy levels and inaccessibility to reliable protective clothing. Smuggled products, unregistered products, open air sales, sale of banned product, cases of decanting and reweighing, faking of pest control products using counterfeit labels, sale of expired products with modified expiry dates are among the misuse cases that have been reported in Kenya. Spraying mistaken products has lead to the dead of hundreds of flock (PCPB, 2004).

- Challenges facing the horticultural industry in Kenya

The Kenya horticultural industry is the second largest foreign exchange earner after tea. It earns US$300,000,000 annually. It creates employment to both the rural and the urban populations estimated at 500,000 and over 2 million people respectively (Mehrdad, 2004). Kenya is the largest flower exporter to the EU, with 25% of the market share, where 50,000 tonnes of flowers are exported annually. The horticulture industry is the major consumer of pesticides and the export market customers now demand a reduction in pesticide use. Minimum Residue Limits (MRLs) has been enacted by the European Union which does not tolerate any detectable traces of residues. There are also strict phytosanitary regulation which do not tolerate pests or related damage to produce. It is therefore a challenge to Kenya to produce pest/damage free products, which are also pesticide residue free. The only way to come out of the puzzle is to adopt for natural pest control methods.

- Debate in malaria control

By signing the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) on May 23, 2001, the Government of Kenya agreed to phase out banned products like Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). However, DDT is known to reduce malaria drastically, a disease that kills approximately 700 Kenyans a day (IEPE, 2006). Like many other courtiers in Africa, there has been a conflict in Kenya on the advantages and disadvantages of using DDT for malaria control. Kenya recently started on Artemisinin-based drugs and Pyrethrin treated nets using synthetic pyrethroids, but while these processes were at their inception, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced the lifting of the ban on DDT on the September 15th, 2006 (WHO, 2006). Already, DDT contamination in Lake Victoria resulted in a European ban on imports of fish products from the region. Stakeholders have expressed concerns that DDT reintroduction would compromise Kenya's $300 million horticultural industry (IPEP, 2006).

Biopesticides as alternatives to synthetic chemicals

- Use of botanicals

Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide extracted from the flowers of a plant called Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium. The crop has been grown in Kenya for the last 70 years; the country is the world's leading producer of natural pyrethrum, producing 80 percent of the global supply. Currently, Kenya produces 6000 ­ 8000 metric tones of dry flowers of pyrethrum. 6000 metric tonnes are exported while 2000 metric tonnes are used for strategic storage. 60% of all the exports goes to the USA, 35% to Europe and 5% to African countries. Out of these, 2-3% goes to Egypt and South Africa and Kenya uses less that 1% of the total pyrethrum production. The Pyrethrum Board of Kenya produces products for public health, animal health and crop protection products. Experts believe that national malaria control strategies should support Kenya's own pyrethrum industry instead of DDT imports. Botanical insecticides derived from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) have also been formulated by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), Nairobi. Products can be used both for public health and crop protection purposes.

- Use of natural enemies

Other natural pest control products include natural enemies such as predators, parasitoids and enthomopathogenic nematodes and microorganisms such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). However, not much has been done to promote its large scale importation, manufacturing and utilization.

- Ways of promoting biopesticides in Kenya

1. Legalisation: The pesticide legislation protocol in Kenya as spelled out by the he Pest Control Act covers only chemical pesticides and treats biopesticides as similar products thereby inhibiting their commercialisation and use. However, at a workshop held in Kenya in May, 2003, a framework was developed for the registration of naturally occurring pest control products. The draft framework was handed over to PCPB for further transmission to the Ministry of Agriculture for approval. 2. Awareness: The larger part of the population are ignorant of the dangers present in the use of synthetics. Following reports of cross misuse of pesticides, the PCPB conducted five stockist training sessions countrywide where 56 stockists of pesticides were trained in 2003 (PCPB, 2004). These efforts are trivial compared the 3,000 pesticide stockists in Kenya. Awareness campaigns should be intensified. 3. Favourable policy: The variable stakeholders who promote the prudent and conservative use of products for the benefit of mankind and the environment cannot achieve much without a favourable support policy on the part of the government. The registration, restriction and banning of pesticide products, as well as the development and commercialization of biopesticides is all governed by state policy. 4. Funding: Many researchers have recognized the fact that dealing with biopesticides is a lot more intricate and expensive than dealing with synthetics. Funding for research institutions, mass production and commercialization require positive support.


IEPE (2006). The International POPs Elimination Project (IPEP); Approaches to Effective Malaria Control that Avoid DDT in Kenya: Use of Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (BTi). Ngaruiya P.N. (2004). Overview of Registration of pesticides in Kenya. In: Wabule, M.N., Ngaruiya, P.N., Kimmins F.K., and silverside, P.J. (eds) (2003). Registration for Biocontrol Agents in Kenya: Proceedings of the PCPB/KARI/DFID CPP Workshop, Nakuru, Kenya, 14 ­ 16 May 2003. p 79-85. Mehrdad E. (2004). Problem facing the flower industry. In: Wabule, M.N., Ngaruiya, P.N., Kimmins, F.K. and Silverside, P.J. (eds). Registration for Biocontrol Agents in Kenya: Proceedings of the PCPB/KARI/DFID CPP Workshop, Nakuru, Kenya, 14 ­ 16 May 2003, pages 7-8. WHO (2006). WHO gives indoor use of DDT a clean bill of health for controlling malaria. ( PCPB (2004). Pest Control Products Board, July, 2003 ­ June, 2004 Annual Report. PCPB (2005). Pest Control Products Board, July, 2004 ­ June, 2005 Annual Report.


Towards Reducing Synthetic Pesticide Imports in Favour of Locally Available Botanicals in Kenya

4 pages

Report File (DMCA)

Our content is added by our users. We aim to remove reported files within 1 working day. Please use this link to notify us:

Report this file as copyright or inappropriate


Notice: fwrite(): send of 204 bytes failed with errno=104 Connection reset by peer in /home/ on line 531