East African fresh produce exporters are being locked out of the lucrative EU market by the strict regulations on the use of chemicals. The EU, which is the leading importer of horticulture produce particularly from Kenya, has amended its policy on the maximum residue levels (MRLs) by lowering permissible limits in food produce. The move comes soon after the EU put Kenya back on the blacklist of countries using high levels of pesticides.
“We are witnessing an increase in interceptions of consignments because of the new regulations,” Hosea Machuki, Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya chief executive told The EastAfrican. This means the country has to increase monitoring and surveillance.
Citing risk assessment, the EU lowered the MRLs for several pesticides allowed for produce entering its market, particularly those used in citrus fruits and bananas. The new MRL limits have been set at 0.01 milligrammes per kilogramme (mg/kg) against the international standard that sets an MRL level of 2.0 mg/kg. New requirements on beans and peas are waiting ratification before coming into effect in January.
East Africa exporters will feel the pinch because to make the cut, exporters and their EU importing agencies must pay $1,212 per consignment for inspection. Repeated failure to adhere to the set limits on toxin residue often result in licence cancellation.
This year, three Kenyan firms have been locked out of the electronic certification system domiciled at the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service blocking them from exporting to the bloc. The stringent EU regulations could result in a significant decline of exports particularly beans and peas from Kenya as produce will be subjected to 10 per cent sampling up from five per cent starting in January.