Kenya Markets Trust is promoting the adoption of bio-pesticides by smallholder farmers to advance climate-smart agricultural practices and safe use of pesticides to enhance compliance with food safety standards. This will increase incomes and food security in the country. Our entry point has been in the horticulture sub-sector, which is a key foreign exchange earner in Kenya.
Agriculture accounts for 65% of the total export earnings in Kenya with horticulture being the largest agricultural sub-sector contributing about 33% of the Agricultural GDP and 38% of export earnings
Despite this critical importance, farmers are increasingly facing resistance to pesticides, an important factor of production. At the same time, export markets continue to increase standards regulating chemical residue levels. This has led to the ban of commonly used pesticides or severe restriction of their use.
The ban has resulted in high incidences of rejection of horticultural produce in the export market due to noncompliance to set standards for many smallholder farmers groups which produce most of the vegetables and fruit marketed for export. Household incomes have in turn negatively affected the entire economy.
Biopesticides to the rescue of farmers
As such, increasing access to bio-pesticides is important to smallholder farmers’ productivity in the horticulture sub-sector. Bio-pesticides are biological control agents and botanical products used to control pests. They do not persist in the environment and have low or no residual effects, raising compliance to international standards and consequently, increasing access to bigger and better export markets.
Other benefits of bio-pesticide use are reduced post-harvest intervals, minimal environmental degradation, increased safety of people and animals, lower likelihood of pests developing resistance and high efficacy.
Despite these benefits, few farmers have embraced bio-pesticides. Kenya’s use of bio-pesticides is less than 2%, with only large-scale flower farms using the products.
In Kenya, bio-pesticides are registered and regulated by the Pesticide Control Products Board (PCPB). Currently, 52 products and 14 bio-pesticides agents or distributors are registered with the board.
Finlays – Dudutech
Dudutech, a subsidiary of one of the leading horticultural exporters in Kenya, Finlays Ltd, is a pioneer in the bio-pesticides development field, having started operations in 2001. Dudutech’s bio-pesticides products and integrated pest management (IPM) protocols have helped Finlays eliminate the use of synthetic chemicals from its vegetable production, enabling it to meet stringent export regulatory standards.
Why partner with Dudutech?
In partnering with Dudutech, Kenya Market Trust (KMT) aims to make these innovative products available to commercial horticulture smallholder farmers by facilitating linkages with distributors and their network of rural stockists.
Hub agrodealers New Downtown in Mwea County and Farmers’ Centre in Meru County have emerged as distribution partners. To create awareness at the farmer-level, KMT has supported Dudutech to set up 18 demonstration plots in Kirinyaga and Meru counties. Enthusiastic farmers converge there during farmer field days to train on use of biopesticides.
Benefits of bio-pesticides
Farmers who have adopted bio-pesticides reported a two-fold increase in snow peas production and a 20% increase in the number of cabbage heads marketed. Following a ban from participating in lucrative export markets due to non-compliance to residue standards, smallholder farmers’ groups in Meru and Kirinyaga counties now have a chance to once again export to these markets.
Scale and sustainability
The next phase will involve engagement with state actors, Horticultural Crop Development Authority (HCDA), Pest Control Produce Board (PCPB), Ministry of Agriculture and non-state market actors including the 14 firms registered as bio-pesticides agents or distributors to conduct nationwide sensitization campaigns. These are aimed at increasing awareness and access of bio-pesticides for more than 3.5 million smallholder farmers.