In Summary
  • The April ban on thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and clothianidin, expected to come into force this year, covers all outdoor uses in Europe.
  • The yields and quality of other crops, such as coffee, avocado, mango and runner beans, are affected negatively.
  • In Kenya, the highest level of thiamethoxam measured in pollen was 0.05 milligrammes per kilogramme.

The European Commission has banned three of the most widely applied insecticides due to the risk to bees and other pollinators.

The April ban on thiamethoxam, imidacloprid and clothianidin, expected to come into force this year, covers all outdoor uses in Europe. The chemical use will, however, be permitted in permanent greenhouses where exposure to bees is unlikely.

The commission considered scientific evidence that neonicotinoids not only cause disorientation and fertility reduction and weaken the immune system of many species of these insects but also affect birds and aquatic life such as fish and macroinvertebrates.

However, despite the African honey bee being more sensitive to these neonicotinoids than the European one, the pesticides are still heavily and widely used in Kenya. Imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, for example, are approved for use in controlling insect pests in coffee trees, French beans, maize, cotton, wheat, forestry nurseries, roses, tobacco and vegetables.

PEST CONTROL PRODUCTS

The Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) has registered 718 products, of which 28 per cent are not approved in Europe because of their potential human or environmental health effects. There are 41 products in the local market which contain these two active ingredients.

Considering that many crops grown in the country, especially those important to small-scale farmers, depend on insect pollination for good yields and quality and that these farmers are the majority in the sector, the welfare of bees is highly dependent on them. However, farmers are often not aware of the potential toxicity of pesticides available in local agro-vets towards pollinators.

A 2013 survey showed that farmers in various parts of the country do not follow pesticide usage advice — like avoiding application in the morning, when pollinators are active.

This exacerbates the decline in production of crops that are wholly dependent on pollinators, such as passion fruit, pumpkin, watermelon, okra and strawberries.

YIELDS AFFECTED

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