Chemicals such as fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides play a crucial role in boosting food production to keep hunger at bay and ensure that the people are healthy and strong enough to contribute to national growth and prosperity. Ironically, some of thplay a crucial role in boosting food production to keep hunger at bay and ensure that the people are healthy and strong enough to contribute to national growth and prosperity. Ironically, some of these supposedly useful substances also contain toxins that pose a grave danger to the consumers of the food produced.
Whereas there is some apparent official tolerance of the use of suspect chemicals in growing crops, the horticultural industry has, in seeking markets overseas for Kenyan vegetables and fruits, been slapped with stringent requirements that the farmers must comply with. It is precisely because the overseas authorities place the health and safety of their people above everything else.
The huge increase in the amount of imported insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and other chemicals may be contributing to expanding food production but this comes at a grave cost to the consumers. Incidentally, some fertilisers and other chemicals that are banned in their countries of origin are still readily available and are being liberally used locally. However, the same foreigners who will not buy our horticultural products with high chemical residues because they must protect their own consumers have no scruples about selling those toxic chemicals to us.
It is important that public health authorities step up monitoring to identify and block the deadly imports. For too long, products such as the weed killer RoundUp, which is banned in Europe, are still being used in Kenya.
The people need an elaborate safety assurance, not the dismissal by Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga of the concern about the toxic chemicals used in farming as “scaremongering” by an interested group. After all, where there is smoke, there is fire.