Farmers in Kenya through the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, the National Potato Council of Kenya, and the Cereal Growers Association have lodged a petition with parliament. The petition seeks for the review and overturning of a recommendation from the Parliamentary Health Committee that the industry claim will be detrimental for Kenya.

Following a petition from the organic farming group Route to Food, the Health Committee took up the decision to determine the Agricultural Policy in Kenya. As a result, the Committee recommended to parliament that it ban all agricultural inputs in Kenya that are banned in Europe.

However, the Committee did not review the EU policies that have led to the bans, failing to ascertain that the policies that have led to the bans in Europe have been disputed by the rest of the world as unscientific trade barriers.

Kenya is one of 45 countries that has contested the EU’s input policies and bans through the World Trade Organization, in a 7-year dispute in which the EU has been asked to provide scientific grounds for the bans, which it has never yet done. The policies have also been rejected vigorously by the US as unscientific and also fly in the face of the world food safety system run jointly by the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

“It speaks to a constitutional oversight that the health committee can recommend the most serious agricultural policy change in a generation and never even seek the input of the agricultural committee or any agricultural policy makers, appearing to be completely unaware, too, of our own nation’s foreign policy and trade position on the same matter,” said Ojepat Okisegere, CEO of the Fresh Produce Consortium, Kenya.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya recently announced a new drive to address the country’s rising pest levels. He added that Kenya needed to boost overall farmer productivity and protect and safeguard the nation’s agriculture from external threats, including the introduction of foreign pests and diseases.

However, the Health Committee has asked to ban the majority of the country’s crop protection products, in a meltdown that will lead to a near-immediate maize crisis.

“We hope with this petition that the government will reconsider where agricultural policy should sit, under what circumstances we adopt foreign legislation, when we act in opposition to our own trade and foreign policy positions, and whether it is right to sacrifice our food security and GDP without any impact assessment at all,” added Mr. Okisegere.

With the Pest Control Produces Board now instructed to review the status of every crop protection and public health product banned under the EU’s environmental changes, farmers are also demanding that the reviews be properly resourced. This is to ensure that they can be based in science and scientific studies and not delivered through political pressure without proof or grounds.