Regulation of importation, exportation, manufacture, registration and use of pest control products in Kenya and United Kingdom-UK pesticides safe use
Use of pesticides in Kenya

Pesticides and fertilizer regulations in Kenya

Throwback edition: This article is an exam that I wrote at Strathmore Business School during my post-graduate in the AGCO Agribusiness Qualification Program

Course : Crop Nutrition. I am always grateful to our lecturers for teaching us things that are very useful in my daily work!

Question : Appraise the current pesticide and fertilizer legislation and its role in reducing the impacts of agro-chemicals on operator safety, consumer safety and on wildlife and the environment (20 mks)



The Pest Control Products Board regulates importation and exportation, manufacture, registration and use of pest control products in Kenya, while registration of fertilizer importation is controlled by the Kenya National Bureau of Standard. These two bodies are independent but are expected to work in close collaboration.

1.     Control of pesticide products by Kenya Pest Control Products Board- PCBP

PCPB is a statutory organization of the Kenyan government established under an Act of parliament of 1982 to regulate the importation and exportation, manufacture, distribution and use of pest control products. The key strategic objectives of PCPB are:

·         Registration of new pesticides that meet safety standards, economic value, quality and efficacy. This is followed by continuous inspection of all stakeholders

·         Educate and create awareness to stakeholders and general public on the potential risks of environment contamination and health problems that emanate from improper use and disposal of pest products. By this, they encourage various stakeholders in the pesticides industry to have codes of practice for their own self-regulation. PCPB website does not have a lot of content to educate pesticides users.

i.             Control of pesticides importation and usage

PCPB controls the importation of pesticides through various registrations and licensing which are:

Agency licensing: All pesticides manufacturers outside Kenya are required to appoint an authorized representative in Kenya. The agent is then required to obtain an agency license issued by Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) . The license is valid for a calendar year from the date of issue. 

·         Product registration:  Product registration is mandatory for all pesticide products imported to Kenya. As the competent authority, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB)  issues a product registration certificate after evaluation has been done. The product registration certificate is valid for three calendar years from the date of issue.

·         Premise licensing: All premises handling pesticides in Kenya are regulated by the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB)  which issues a premise license after carrying out inspection on the premises and ascertaining that the premise complies with the Pest Control Products (Licensing of Premises) Regulations. The premise license is valid for a calendar year from the date of issue. The example, the regulation states that: a premise must be of a suitable design, layout and construction to ensure the health of workers and to avoid contamination of the environment. However, the regulation does not offer concrete details on how a pesticide premise should look like.

·         Protection of workers: Operators working with pesticides or in pesticides premises must at all time wear adequate protective clothing.

·         Import permit: Importation of a new pesticide product will require an importer to obtain a product registration certificate from Pest Control Products Board (PCPB)  who also issues an import permit for pesticides for each consignment. All importers are required to obtain an import declaration form (IDF) for each consignment prior to importation of any pest product.

·         Import standardization mark: The Import Standardization Mark (ISM) is a mandatory requirement for all imported products intended for sale in the local market. The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is the competent authority that regulates issuance of the ISM stickers.

·         Environmental protection: Pest control products used in aquatic and forestry situations are classified and restricted by the board. The board requires that all potential environmental risks be displayed on the product label. However, the board has not mapped the country to identify vulnerable zones for certain chemicals.

The law that governs NCPB is the pest control products regulation of 1984. It outlines all required procedures and requirements for licensing and registrations mentioned above.

ii.            Agro-chemical stakeholders’ self-regulation in Kenya

Some stakeholders in Kenya have come together to develop industry standards and code of practice for members, who must adhere to its principles in exchange for lucrative market opportunities for their produce. An example of such standards is the Kenya GAP. Kenya GAP is a standard owned by the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK) and it targets horticulture farmers in Kenya. It takes into consideration the internationally accepted practices in growing fresh produce that will result in food that is safe to eat for the consumer, while ensuring conservation of the environment as well as the health and safety of those doing the production.

Kenya-GAP is used by the FPEAK’s members to promote and ensure the implementation of socially and environmentally sound production and marketing practices of their fresh produce. The scheme covers the entire spectrum of production, food handling, transportation, packaging and waste management and meets standards of environmental management, product food safety, quality, traceability and occupational health & safety of workers.

While Kenya-GAP is both for local market and international market, there exist other international standards that promote good agricultural practices such as GLOBAL-GAP that are very popular in Kenya today.

2.    Control of fertilizer use in Kenya

The Act of Parliament on Fertilizers and Animal Foodstuffs is the law that regulates the importation, manufacture and sale of agricultural fertilizers and animal foodstuffs in the Kenyan market. This Act of parliament describes the procedures of fertilizer approval before it is placed in the market. Some of the required specifications include packaging, labeling, nutrients constituents. However, the government does not have detailed guidelines for farmers regarding safe use of fertilizer or restricted areas.

3.    Bench-marking with United Kingdom’s agro-chemical practices

Unlike the UK that has tangible knowledge materials on safe use of fertilizers and pesticides, the Kenyan government has nothing tangible to show. The fact that any pesticides or any fertilizer could be used anywhere in Kenya clearly demonstrates that the government has not done enough to map out the country by identifying vulnerable areas and offer clear guidance on use and disuse of certain pesticides and fertilizer. Recently the government of Kenya tried to introduce a law prohibiting the use of animal manure, but this attempt was met with acute resistance from the farmers which made the government to withdraw the efforts to legalize the move.

This means that if a farmer in Kenya does not belong to any professional association that has set strict market standards, he or she is not obliged to adhere to any code of conduct apart from their own moral obligations.

However, Kenya can learn several practices from the UK regarding safe use of pesticides and fertilizers which include:

a.       Guidance on nitrate vulnerable zones: The UK Government offers guidance to farmers and landowners explaining the safe use of nitrogen fertilizers and organic manure. This regulation maps out areas that are at risk of nitrate pollution, and advises farmers to transit their farming practices and adopt those that do not contribute to nitrate pollution.

b.      Use of Environmental Information Sheets (EIS) : These are documents that provide additional information to farmers and pesticides operators on top of the information provided on the products label. The EIS provide product-specific environmental impact information and highlights situations where risk management is essential to ensure environmental protection.

c.       Local Environment Risk Assessment for Pesticides (LERAP): It is a practice relating to a buffer zone between a body of water and an area being treated with pesticides. It offers guidelines to ensure there is an area of untreated land near a body of water. Not all pesticides are subject to LERAP, but if a LERAP is required, it is always clearly stated on the pesticide label.

d.      Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH): This is the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. It describes various ways in which employers can reduce or prevent of workers and operators from hazardous substances. 

In summary, we realize that the UK Government has gathered a lot of information that is available for free to farmers and landowners. This information has made farmers in the UK more knowledgeable about the risks caused by the improper use of pesticides and fertilizers. With this  kind of awareness, it becomes easier for farmers to adhere to health and safety regulations set out by the government. In the same way, if the Kenyan government invests in educating farmers, it will become easier for farmers to adopt healthy and environmentally friendly farming practices.


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