KEPHIS trains technical personnel in the horticulture industry on safe use of pesticides

KEPHIS in collaboration with USAID Feed the Future Project conducted a three day training of 50 technical personnel from the horticulture industry on safe use of pesticides to ensure food safety. The event consisted of theoretical and practical sessions that aimed at educating participants on Quality Management Systems (QMS) that aids in planning, assurance, control and improvement of systems to ensure food safety.

At the official opening, KEPHIS MD, Dr. Esther Kimani urged the stakeholders to produce the best agricultural produce to increase its demand in the international markets. She emphasized that market requirements are becoming more stringent and must be met. “Different markets have different standards; we are soon penetrating the US market and its standards will be communicated. “she added.

KEPHIS MD, Dr. Esther Kimani addressing attendees during the official opening of the technical personnel training at KEPHIS headquarters

Participants were taken through the new market requirements to ensure compliance as new regulations were put in place since January 2018 due to the False Codling Moth (FCM). Debora Shituvi, a KEPHIS inspector said,” The European Union is watching our trends in terms of pest management, while the Australian market requires no live insect on produce exported there.” She emphasized that Kenya, being a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, its fruits and vegetables must meet the minimum requirements such as being sound, intact, use of right labelling to enable traceability, rightly packed and free from harmful organisms to avoid interceptions, stringent measures on arrival to the international market and to ease pest management.

James Woto, from the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory (ACL) emphasized that calibration is important as it ensures correct amount of pesticide is applied uniformly over the targeted area hence, preventing wastage and ensure that there is no residues in crops being sprayed which results to consumer protection. He noted that errors are brought about by worn out pumps or nozzles, improper cleaning methods, mishandling, uncalibrated pesticide spray equipment and lack of supervision and monitoring during spraying. 

Linda Maina, also from the ACL took the trainees through the QMS which consists of quality planning, quality assurance, quality control and quality improvement. She noted that during documentation, a hierarchy consisting of manual, policy, procedures, work instructions and records should be noted. “This is important because it helps in improving processes, reducing waste, lowering costs, establishing a process based work approach, engaging staff, determining of customers and their requirements and setting organization’s direction.

On update of food safety issues, Bernard Okonda, an ACL Analyst mentioned that there are 196 blacklisted molecules in the EU which are 70 fungicides, 64 insecticides, 53 herbicides, 15 fumigants and 11 plant growth regulators that contain acephate, methamidophos, carbofuran, dimethoate, omethoate, chloropyrifos, dimefuron, fenthion, profenofos and carbendazim. He noted that these molecules have been detected

Bernard Okonda, from the Analytical Chemistry Laboratory presenting an update of food safety issues during the technical personnel in horticulture industry training at KEPHIS headquarters in the KEPHIS laboratory.

In addition, the trainees were taken through the maximum Residue Limits (MRL) setting, testing and decisions on compliance which are based on the CODEX standards. A representative sample is obtained from a lot for analysis.  

Trainees being taken through scouting for pests and diseases (left) and sampling for pesticide residue analysis (right)
Lastly, the trainees were taken through a practical session in Naivaisha where they learnt how to calibrate spraying equipment and speed used while spraying to ensure uniformity of pesticide applied. They also learnt about scouting for pests and diseases and sampling for pesticide residue analysis.

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