The amendment of a finance bill before Kenya’s parliament is expected to pass and will allow for the liberalization of the country’s pyrethrum sector, once the country’s largest foreign exchange earner.  In fact, per Business Daily Africa, until 2003, Kenya commanded 80% of the growing EU pyrethrin market, largely because of its ideal growing climate.  Grievances over unpaid deliveries, however, following a surge in output in 2002-2003 caused many farmers to switch to better paying crops, allowing suppliers from Tasmania, China, Australia and Rwanda to fill the void.  Yet those countries have been unable to match rising demand; moreover, last year Kenya’s government sacked the the entire Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PBK) and appointed a transition team in the process to trigger necessary reforms.

 

Pyrethrum is a flower that contains a substance used in pesticides. The pyrethrum extract, known as pyrethrin, is derived from the flower’s petals. Liberalization, writes BDA, “will mean that farmers will be able to grow pyrethrum without necessarily acquiring PBK licenses and will also sell their produce to PBK or any other established processor.” According to reports, the growing demand for “organic” or “natural” pesticides has driven the increased international demand for pyrethrin, despite the existence of synthetic chemical substitutes at roughly half the price.  Moreover, Western governments seem continually keen to review and sometimes ban some of the alternatives available, which could further solidify the plant’s fundamentals as a revenue earner.Yet limited domestic funds allotted to the industry potentially means that without outside capital, demand will continue to outstrip supply in international markets.

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