Kenyan Exports Remain Affected by Increased EU Controls
For some 3 years European Union countries have been closely monitoring the incidence of pesticide residues in peas and French beans imported from Kenya. EU regulations specify the levels of pesticide residues that are permitted in different foodstuffs, and where these levels are exceeded, they take action. From 2011 onwards, residues at higher levels have been detected in a number of consignments. As a result, from January 2013, the European Commission increased the intensity of border controls on Kenyan peas and beans and now 10% of all imports are sampled for pesticide residues.
These increased controls are having a major impact on the sector. Fresh peas and beans have a short shelf-life and there is a tight timeframe between harvest-transport-retailer-consumer. The controls are causing delays so that some produce passes the sell-by date and no longer meets retailer specifications. On top of this are the increased costs of the controls, passed on to the importer by EU authorities. The end result is that Kenyan peas and beans are becoming less competitive.
This situation risks impacting directly on the lives of thousands of farmers and workers in a Kenya, where agriculture is the major contributor to socio-economic welfare. In April, COLEACP, an EU-based association for the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific-EU horticultural trade, conducted the first of a series of surveys to assess the impact of the controls. The findings showed a big decline in export volumes to the EU in January-March 2013 compared to the same period in 2012. There was also a reduction in the number of packhouse workers, and a worrying tendency for exporters to decrease sourcing from small-scale outgrowers, who have traditionally been major producers of these crops. The Kenyan authorities are engaged with the European authorities to address the problem.