By James Ochieng

To avoid unintended consequences, the Green Deal needs to take into account its impact on European Union’s trading partners especially those in Africa, according to Kinyua Mbijjewe, Agricultural Consultant at AgCuity consulting during a Science Africa agricultural workshop.

Mbijjewe said calls for synergies need to take cognizance of the diseases and pest pressures that pose major challenges for African farmers and require the use of effective pesticides, some of which are proposed for banning in the EU.

“Kenya has pesticide regulations that are risk based and largely fit for purpose that help unlock the potential of sustainable agricultural innovation. Regulations suited to the needs of Europe are not necessarily suited to the needs of Africa. Limiting farmers’ access to necessary technologies will risk livelihoods and compromise food security. Kenyan regulatory frameworks should be strengthened not undermined,” stated Mbijjewe.

Kinyua Mbijjewe at the function

He added that currently Africa uses much less pesticides and fertilizer per hectare than Europe yet the Green Deal calls for reductions of upto 50%. This will be unfair to Africa.

Mbijjewe noted that substantive dialogue and negotiation is required between the EU and Kenya/Africa on the opportunities, challenges, synergies and divergences on their respective visions for agriculture, food and the environment.

The input of all key Kenyan stakeholders, especially farmers, Agriculture Ministries in both the National and County level, key-value chain associations, academia, industry players and consumer organizations need to be prioritized, he said.

Mbijjewe urged African countries to build a stable, rules-based multilateral trading system by making political, technical and financial support for the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Through this the EU is ready to share its customs union and single market experience.

The EU has a clear strategy and position and Africa more so Kenya needs to ensure that it negotiates its position in EU-Africa agreements in line with the country’s/continent’s interests and priorities, he stated.

“Any agreement should strengthen agriculture and its contribution to sustainable and inclusive development, “Mbijjewe noted.

The agricultural sector is a pillar of Kenyan economy, directly contributing 34% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), approximately 60% of export earnings, 18% of the country’s formal employment and about 60% of the informal employment according to the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries 2015.