The European Union will impose stricter measures on Kenyan beans starting May 26, tightening its checks on residue levels, raising the price and threatening access if the country fails to comply. The new directive the bloc issued on May 6, will see all beans from Kenya subjected to a 10 percent mandatory sampling, with excessive levels of pesticide residues likely to lead to total ban.
The EU, which is Kenya's main market for horticulture produce, had initially capped the sampling at five percent, with the doubling of the sample size expected to hit farmers and make the produce more expensive in the world market.
In its official journal, the European Union says some food and feed from certain Third World countries, including Kenya are subjected to special conditions for the entry into the union due to contamination risk that among others include aflatoxin and pesticide residue.
"We now need to get careful and ensure we use the right pesticide and avoid high residue levels that will risk a ban on our products to the EU market," said Ojepat Okesegere, chief executive at Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya.
Mr Okesegere said the new requirement would reduce the shelf life of Kenya's produce as it will take at least two days for the tests to be concluded. "Currently, it takes a maximum of one day for our beans to get to the market but with the new requirement, it means the time taken on inspection will increase before the produce is released to the market, hence cutting on the shelf life," he said.
Beans, which fall under vegetables, are one of the key components in Kenya's horticultural industry that last year earned Kenya Sh25 billion foreign exchange. Last year, EU returned Kenya to list of countries that use high levels of pesticides in the horticultural produce.