File picture: Reuters

JOHANNESBURG – The European Union (EU) has toughened its restrictions on the import of fresh produce from East Africa by strengthening regulations on the use of farm chemicals thereby limiting farmers’ access in the region to the lucrative European market.

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, particularly those used in citrus fruit and bananas, the East African reported.

The increased restrictions include the EU placing Kenya on the blacklist of countries using high levels of pesticides.

“We are witnessing an increase in interceptions of consignments because of the new regulations,” said Hosea Machuki, Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya’s chief executive.

Nairobi will now have to increase its monitoring and surveillance of the produce it exports to Europe while East Africa exporters feel the bite as they together with their EU importing agencies are now forced to pay $1,212 per consignment for inspection.

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 for ratification before coming into effect in January.

The European Union (EU) has toughened its restrictions on the import of fresh produce from East Africa by strengthening regulations on the use of farm chemicals thereby limiting farmers’ access in the region to the lucrative European market.

-       African News Agency (ANA)