Don’t copy-paste EU agriculture policies

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Don’t copy-paste EU agriculture policies


mps

MPs during a session at Parliament chambers. PHOTO | FILE

jenny

Summary

  • Now Kenya has been horrendously hoodwinked.
  • Its Parliament has been asked to ban most of the country’s pesticides, though a decision to ban anything banned anywhere else.
  • The one ‘anywhere else’ is Europe with its bans without health or environmental evidence.

Last week, my graphic designer sent me a link showing a young Zambian woman speaking at an international conference designed to draw African youth into agriculture. It was eye-widening.

Her first point was that the worthy who run our overarching agricultural organisations appear completely dislocated from youth perspectives.

She picked on a brochure produced to attract youth, but designed in greens and browns with the picture that speaks to underprivilege, and conforming to stereotypes that young Africans carry from the villages about farming, as old, backwards, and, as she put it, not ‘sexy’. She offered, instead, to be the face for youth in farming, and brought laughter from all, discussing how she is sexy and appealing.

The young woman revealed she is a farmer, but was a doctor. She won her place in medical school, qualified, and began working in hospitals, where, she said, she quickly learned that nearly all the health issues she was seeing were caused by poverty.

“We don’t need drugs,” she said. What Africa needs, she declared, is to end poverty and that means driving agriculture.

So that young doctor became a farmer and she promotes farming. Having spilled out powerful data and case building to boot, she really did look like an ambassador for African youth in agriculture.

But the mirth she was met with, the passion she poured in, the time it took for people to realise this was a serious person who needed to be listened to, all these added up to a depressing statement on the resistance there is to truth when the mind sets are locked and closed.

And agriculture must surely be our number one victim of the closed-of-mind in 2021. For, right now, there is an issue going on with European Union agricultural policy that is causing international consternation.

Another link, another webinar, I was last week watching an African Union seminar on food safety, where the US Department of Agriculture Under Secretary put the clearest case I have yet heard against the EU’s abandonment of the world food safety system and adoption of target-based policies to ban pesticides regardless of health considerations.

Now Kenya has been horrendously hoodwinked. Its Parliament has been asked to ban most of the country’s pesticides, though a decision to ban anything banned anywhere else. The one ‘anywhere else’ is Europe with its bans without health or environmental evidence.

So, Kenya is set to adopt the EU policy, without one single piece of information considered on how Europe has arrived at its Farm-to-Fork strategy or ‘Green Deal’ to halve pesticide use, or its ‘precautionary principle’ that has seen it ban hundreds of pesticide products, approved everywhere else, without any scientific evidence.

I have been told that no-one cares or can grasp the problem with the EU policy. The specialists know and no-one else wants to. But as Kenya now moves to a world of Europe plus Kenya versus the World Health Organisation, the FAO, Codex (the international body that sets food standards globally), the US, and everywhere else, I feel the derision directed at that woman.

At some point, our parliamentary health committee and Parliament need to inform themselves on the European policy they are recommending adopting. Or not.

Maybe we can just be a new European State governed by EU policy we never looked at, adopting policy without any due process. Maybe the health committee’s point is that Europe makes better policies than Kenya, so we can do it for everything? European human rights policies, labour laws, commercial laws? But, even then, it would be a shadow of adopting the EU agricultural policy.

For Europe doesn’t have locusts, of Fall Armyworm or tomato leaf curl, which is tropical.

It doesn’t have malaria, but this ban of all EU-banned products will take out most of our treatments for malarial mosquitoes, as well as every single remedy for termites, so next time termites come in, they get to eat your whole house down.

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