Observation on East African Agrochemical Market

- Agriculture Overview, Market size, Registration Analysis

By Drake Liu

By Drake Liu

Editor of AgroPages


By Yating Jiang

By Yating Jiang

Editor of AgroPages


Agriculture has been of great significance to the economic development for Africa for a long time, 23% of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agriculture. The region not only has abundant agricultural resources, a good production climate, but also has many disadvantages, such as low industrialization, low production efficiency, and limited support for agricultural development. Investigations have shown that Africa’s cereal production has the potential to increase by 2-3 times, horticultural crops and livestock have a similar growth trend. This provides potential investment opportunities for various agricultural input companies ranging from seeds, fertilizers, pesticides to agricultural machinery and equipment. Therefore, Africa is a market full of challenges and huge opportunities for many agricultural investors.

East Africa is not only one of the most important economies in Africa, but also hotspots for agricultural investment and the key implementation

area of China's "Belt and Road" strategy. In the geographical division list of the United Nations Statistics Division, East Africa includes 20 countries including Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, etc. The terrain of this area is dominated by plateaus, mainly savanna climate, suitable temperature, and low utilization rate of agricultural resources. This interview presents the agrochemical market of three important East African countries-Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania. Agriculture is the pillar industry of their economic development and is dominated by small farmers, who own most of the land and produce most of the crops. Locust swarms of biblical proportions and the Covid-19 pandemic this year therefore look set to heavily influence the economic growth of East Africa. This article, from the perspective of some leading agrochemical companies rooted in the East African market, will lead you to explore this land where crisis and potential coexist.



Charefeddine Regai

Charefeddine Regai

Business Development Manager of Agrimatco Tanzania

Peter Riziki

Peter Riziki

Agronomy Manager of Yara Tanzania

Agriculture in Tanzania

The agriculture sector in the Tanzanian is the largest contributor to the economy, which is nearly 27% of National Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 75% of exports, and employs nearly 75% of the working population. Agriculture is linked to the non-farm sector through agro-processing, food consumption and export sectors, and provides raw materials to industry.

Tanzania has a total of 94.5 million ha of land area, of which 44 million ha is classified as suitable for agriculture. Out of the available arable land, only 10.1 million ha or 23% of is currently under cultivation. Tanzania’s agriculture production is characterized by small scale subsistence farming. Approximately 85% of the arable land is used by small-holders cultivating 0.2 ha and 2 ha. The average per capita land holding is only 0.12 ha.

There are numerous rivers, lakes and underground water resources, so Tanzania has huge potential for irrigated agriculture. Of the total arable land area, 29.4 million ha has varying degrees of development potential for irrigation: It is estimated that there is 2.3 million ha of high potential, 4.8 million ha of medium potential, and 22.3 million ha of low potential land for irrigation. The total area currently under irrigation is less than 0.5 million ha, of which only 0.4 million ha (1.2% of the total irrigation potential area) has good irrigation infrastructure, while another 0.1 million ha still employs traditional irrigation practices. The main irrigated crops are tea, sugar cane, coffee, flowers, grapes, fruits, maize, paddy, onions, tomatoes, vegetables, spices and pastures.

From “Table 1”, we can see that during the 2017/2018 season, the largest cultivated area is dedicated to cereal, mostly to maize in the southern and northern zones, and rice in the central zone and the great lake area. Pulses are the second most important crop group, in which beans and groundnut are the most prominent. Vegetables are mostly made up of tomato, accounting for 40,000 hectares mainly in the northern and central zones. Cashew nut is cultivated in the southern coastal zone in the districts of Lindi and Mtwara, accounting for 700,000 hectares.

Table 1 Crop planted in Tanzania

Overview of Tanzania agrochemical market

In recent years horticultural and vegetable production has been at an increasing rate, pest infestation has been one of the major constraints to increased agricultural production in Tanzania. The Tanzanian agrochemical market has an estimated value of US$65 million, and a deeper look into this figure will show $17.5 million accounts for herbicides, $29.2 million for insecticides and $18.1 million for fungicides. It is a traditional market where generics constitute over 95% of products on agro-shop shelves. Most of generics are imported from China and India.

The main pesticides used in the Tanzania market are shown in the table. The most commonly used herbicides include glyphosate, 2,4-D, paraquat, etc., fungicides include hexaconazole, mancozeb, sulfur, etc., insecticides include profenofos , malathion, etc. Charefeddine Regai, Business Development Manager of Agrimatco Tanzania also told the author about the use of biopesticides, “The use of biopesticides is very minimal in Tanzania, due to the lack of awareness among farmers, plus the registration process is sometimes challenging, especially for new ingredients. Nevertheless, it is important to raise awareness about the use of biopesticides, IPM and good agricultural practices.”

Table 2 Commonly used pesticides in Tanzania market

Tanzania, whose agrochemicals market was said to be flooded with many counterfeit products, estimated to account for 40 per cent of all seeds, fertilizers and pesticides sold there, according to an IPPMedia.com report. Counterfeits in the Tanzanian market have partly been blamed on the fact that it shares borders with eight neighbors, which, according to Africa Stockpiles Program Chair Dr. Vera Ngowi “makes it difficult to control illegal trade in agrochemicals.”

Regulatory body in Tanzania

A Plant Health Bill has been passed in Parliament in May 2020. It is in the process to be formally enacted, the Plant Protection Act and the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute Act are hereby repealed. The new act is intended to:

1. Consolidate the Plant Protection Act and the Tropical Pesticides Research Institute Act and put in place a consolidated legal framework for plant health and pesticides.

2. Establish the Tanzania Plant Health and Pesticides Authority which shall be the main regulatory body for pesticides and plant health.

3. Introduce a legal framework to facilitate competition and efficiency in plants and plant products trade in Tanzania and internationally.

4. Introduce safeguarding of human health and the environment/ecosystem by ensuring sustainable and efficient management of pesticides, plant health and phytosanitary issues with an effective monitoring and surveillance system of inspectors and reputable laboratory analysis.

Impact of COVID-19 and locust swarm on agriculture

“The COVID-19 pandemic started when almost all the major growing areas had completed planting, though one can say the effects were not noticed especially by the small scale farmers. However, for exporters and commercial farms, the effect was bad due to the lack of transportation for their produce which is mainly to European countries,” said Peter Riziki, Agronomy Manager of Yara Tanzania.

Regai has similar views, “the Covid-19 pandemic reduced agricultural exports, mainly in the floriculture segment during the European lockdown period. Several agricultural companies, including Agrimatco, faced delays in consignment arrivals,” he said.

When it comes to the locust swarm in East Africa, both of them said that Tanzania has not been attacked by Desert locusts.



Getachew Worku

Getachew Worku

CEO of Lions International Trading PLC

Sami Getachew

Sami Getachew

Bussiness Unit Director of Lions International Trading PLC

Wubishet Alemu

Wubishet Alemu

Agro-chemical Department Manager of Lions International Trading PLC

Agriculture in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a landlocked country split by the Great Rift Valley. It is located in the Horn of Africa bordering six countries, with a population of 110 million, growing at an annual rate of 2.5% in 2014, Ethiopia is the second-most populous country in Africa.

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy, contributing 41.4% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and accounting for 83.9% of its total exports and 80% of all employment in the country. Placed in perspective, Ethiopia’s key agricultural sector has grown at an annual rate of about 10% over the past decade, much faster than its population growth. In terms of agriculture expenditure-related metrics, Ethiopia has dedicated an annual investment of some 14.7% of all government spending to the agriculture sector since 2003. Ethiopia is one of the few African countries that consistently meet both the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program’s (CAADP) target of a 10% increase in public investment in agriculture by the year 2008, and boosting agricultural production growth by at least 6% in the following years.

By and large, agriculture in Ethiopia is subsistence. This is particularly true with regards to the major food crops grown in the country, which are produced in almost all regions of the country in spite of different volumes of regional production. This variation may be attributed to the amount of area devoted to each crop type, as well as climate change and a shift in preference for crops grown.

Ethiopia has about 51.3 million hectares of arable land. However, just over 20% is currently cultivated, mainly by smallholders. Over 50% of all smallholder farmers operate on one hectare or less. Smallholder producers, which are about 12 million households, account for around 95% of agricultural GDP. Agricultural production is mainly subsistence, and a large portion of the country’s commodity exports is provided by the small agricultural cash-crop sector.

The current production area is 14.273 million ha, out of this area, grain crops account for the lion’s share, which is 12.678 million ha, including cereal crops with 10.233 million ha, pulse crops with 1.599 million ha and oil seeds with 0.846 million ha.

Table 3 Crop planted in Ethiopia

Overview of Ethiopia agrochemical market

The main source of pesticides in Ethiopia is importation from international manufacturing companies by generic product registrants, accounting for over 75% of the Ethiopian agrochemical market, multinational companies, such as Bayer, Syngenta, BASF, Dow and Monsanto, which are represented by local agents active in the country. These agents act as importers/distributors or suppliers of pesticides to retailers and users. The technical advisors of major companies are usually technically competent in pesticide use, and there is usually person-to-person communication with large-scale users and agents. However, technical advisors generally do not serve small-scale end users in rural and scattered areas of the country.

Currently, there are over 74 pesticide registrants/importers registered legally at the Ministry of Agriculture to operate in the country. Pesticide companies can be divided into roughly two groups, which are importers or wholesalers and retailers. Some import companies combine both functions. Private importers distribute their pesticides either through their own branches or through retailers. These retailers normally deal with more pesticides than importers, as they stock pesticides from different importers. The main buyers of pesticides are retail stores, unions, farm services centers, cooperatives, flowers growers, and individual farmers. Imported or locally-supplied pesticides reach farmers from retailers shop found at district level.

The annual import volume (market size) of agrochemicals is more than 5,000 tons. Ethiopia imports pesticides mainly from China and India, as well as from some European and African countries, such as Kenya. In terms of pesticides exported to Ethiopia, China is the leading country, followed by India.

The total number of pesticides registered in Ethiopia is 506, which include insecticides, fungicides and herbicides. Additionally, 41 pesticides, such as rodenticides, miticides, avicides, nematicides, adjuvants, stickers, PGR, defoliants, household and public health pesticides are registered.

“Ethiopia’s agrochemical market is still at an infant stage. The demand for agrochemicals is increasing yearly across the nation, mainly due to the intensification of bundled technologies provided to end users through extensive work. There are also increases to production area and irrigation, which boosted production and productivity in the country’s low land areas. Moreover, new local and exotic insect pests, diseases and various types of weeds are emerging yearly and could cause considerable crop loss. Therefore, there will be huge potential gains for the agrochemical market in Ethiopia,” said Wubishet Alemu, agro-chemical department manager at Lions International Trading Plc.

“Currently, bio-pesticides are not popular in Ethiopia. Few botanical extract products are in the market. But there will be a potential for bio-pesticides for organic production in the future, as bio-pesticides are environmentally friendly, safe to use and handle, and healthy to humans as well,” Alemu added.

Regulatory body in Ethiopia

The Plant Health Regulatory Directorate (PHRD) of the Ministry of Agriculture is mandated by legislation to:

(i) Regulate pesticide management related to importation, distribution, transportation, storage, retailing and use.

(ii) Adopt appropriate regulations.

(iii) Promote the correct use of pesticides and search for alternatives to chemical pesticides.

(iv) Raise awareness and provide technical support when the need arises during project implementation.

(v) Participate in monitoring and evaluating stakeholders.

(vi) Evaluate the competence of companies engaged in importing and exporting agricultural inputs.

(vii) Conduct quality inspection on agricultural input production areas and their stores, and issue a certificate of competence for those fulfilling the requirements, to ensure that quality agricultural inputs are distributed to users.

The Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) also regulates the following importation and registration procedures for pesticides:

• Assess the local efficacy of a pesticide at a designated research institute

• Issue an import permit for the test sample

• Evaluate dossiers and issue registration certificates

• Issue an import permit for a registered pesticide

• Custom checking of imported pesticides before their clearance

• Supervise warehouses and retail stores

• Inspect, monitor and evaluate the entire agro-chemical market situation in the country

Pesticide registration procedure

Procedures for registering a pesticide in Ethiopia:

• Legal pesticide registration and import license

• Local efficacy test support letter from Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture (MOA)

• Permission letter from MOA for sample chemical to undergo efficacy test trial

• Conduct efficacy test trial at a respected research institutes or universities, which will cost US$5,000.00

• If the product (a.i.) is new and not previously registered in Ethiopia, it requires a two-year efficacy test trial

※ 1st year: Pre-verification test trial

※ 2nd year: Verification test trial if the pre-verification test result is successful

• Registration dossier submission to MOA

• Registration dossier evaluation and comment on the documents by MOA

• If there are no comments on the dossier, we will attain the registration certificate

• Registration process will take 2 to 3 years

The registration process is becoming stricter in Ethiopia too. But until now, there is no legal restriction for banning pesticides that are already banned in other countries. However, there is a suspicion that the Ethiopian government will also adopt a law to ban toxic pesticides from the market gradually.

Information and documents required for registration:

• Authorization letter (original, legalized by CCPIT for Chinese products)

• Manufacturing license (original, legalized by CCPIT for Chinese products)

• Certificate of origin (ICAMA) (original, legalized by CCPIT for Chinese products)

• Certificate of analysis and impurities for technical grade

• Certificate of analysis for formulated product

• Laboratory accredited certificate

• Contract agreement

• Application for the registration of a pesticide

• Active ingredient dossier index

• Formulated product dossier index

• Analytical method of impurities for technical grade

• Acute toxicity studies for technical grade

• Chronic/Sub-chronic toxicity studies for technical grade

• Reproduction toxicity study for technical grade

• Metabolism study for technical grade in animals and plants

• Environmental fate of study for technical grade

• Residue analysis method for technical grade

• Analytical method of the formulated product

• Acute toxicity studies of the formulated product

• Eco-toxicological studies of the formulated product

• Analytical method of formulation compounds

• MRLs, ADI and PHIs

• Safe handling, storage and disposal

Impact of COVID-19 and locust swarm on agriculture

The current COVID-19 pandemic can increase the country’s food insecurity due to resource mobilization towards preventing the disease and movement restrictions that will affect food production, transport, processing and consumption patterns. At the same time, it has created an opportunity for wider social mobilization and new innovations for preventing the disease and minimizing food insecurity. Therefore, the potential effects of the pandemic on Ethiopian agriculture and food security have to be carefully mitigated and possible opportunities are being tapped for better resilience of society. Generally, increased food insecurity, input delay (e.g. of agrochemicals), a slowdown of the services sectors, the decline in foreign earning and rising unemployment are the main impacts of the pandemic.

The desert locust swarms are currently active in Ethiopia because of cross-border movements of immature swarms along the borders of Kenya and Somalia. According to an MOA media briefing, 3.6 million quintals (0.36 million ton) of grain was lost due to the locust infestation. Restrictions to movement as a preventative measure against COVID-19 may distract the efforts to control desert locusts, resulting in the devastation of crops, pastures and forest cover loss and worsening food and feed insecurity. Currently, the government is relaxing movement restrictions and prioritizing campaigns to control desert locusts.



Timothy Munywoki

Timothy Munywoki

Senior Agronomist of Amiran Kenya

Agriculture in Kenya

Kenya, with a population of approximately 53.5 million, is the economic, financial and transport hub of East Africa. Kenya’s real GDP growth has averaged over 5% for the last decade. Agriculture is the engine of economic growth in Kenya. The sector contributes to an estimated 26% of GDP and generates 60% of the total foreign exchange earnings. About 75% of Kenyans earn all or part of their income from this sector.

According to data from FAO in 2016, Kenya has 27.630 million hectares of arable land. The main crops planted in this country include beans, corn, coffee, potatoes and wheat (Table 4). Kenya’s high rainfall areas constitute about 10 percent of Kenya’s arable land, and produce 70 percent of national commercial agricultural output. Farmers in semi-arid regions produce about 20 percent of the output while the arid regions account for the remaining ten percent of the output. Productivity remains relatively low in all the regions due to poor incentives, and underdeveloped supporting infrastructure and institutions. Since 2013, Kenya has been undertaking agricultural sector reforms that are expected to spur growth.

Table 4 Crop mainly planted in Kenya

Overview of Kenya agrochemical market

In 2018, Kenya imported 17,803 tons valued at $US128 million. These pesticides are an assortment of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, fumigants, rodenticides, growth regulators, defoliators, proteins, surfactants and wetting agents. Of the total pesticide imports, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides account for about 87% in terms of volume and 88% of the total cost of pesticide imports.

Remarkably, the volume of imported insecticides, herbicides and fungicides has more than doubled within four years from 6,400 tons in 2015 to 15,600 tons in 2018, at a growth rate of 144%.

Regarding to the challenges in the Kenyan market, Timothy Munywoki, Senior Agronomist of Amiran Kenya LTD said: “The time for registration of chemicals in East Africa including Kenya is long and takes more than two years depending on the target crop and pest. Other challenges are growing counterfeit products in the market especially the well-preferred brands by farmers.”

Regulatory body and registration for pesticides in Kenya

The PCPB is a statutory organization of Kenya Government established under an Act of parliament, the Pest Control Products Act, Cap 346, and Laws of Kenya of 1982. The mission of the board is to provide an efficient and effective regulatory service for importation, exportation, manufacture, distribution, transportation, sale, disposal and safe use of pest control products and mitigate any potentially harmful effects to the environment.

Procedures to Register Pesticides in Kenya:

Required Documents:

• Pesticide legislation document

• Occupational safety document

• Certificate of competence

• Registration certificate

• Remittance fee

Procedures to Register Pesticides in Kenya:

Required Documents:

• Pesticide legislation document

• Occupational safety document

• Certificate of competence

• Registration certificate

• Remittance fee

Stage 1

An applicant should submit a "Form C" to the registrar alongside an experimental label and copy of a dossier of technical information. The technical information must be summarized on the label in conformity to the pest control products labelling, advertising and packing regulations.

Stage 2

The applicant must attach the necessary documents on the application form before submission.

Stage 3

If the board is satisfied with the information provided on the application, the product is released under an experimental permit for a local biological efficacy trial.

• You can use some of the institutions to carry out efficacy trials such as the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI).

• These Institutions are required to send a confidential report to the board on the efficacy trial findings before a pesticide is registered.

The board also ensures that the technical information is summarized on the label in conformity with the Pest Control Products, Labeling, Advertising and Packaging Regulations. Every person desiring to register a pest control product is requested to submit:

1. An application for introduction of a new pest control product, Form C,

2. An application for the registration form, Form A,

3. An experimental label, Label format,

4. A copy of a dossier of technical information (details of requirements are available at PCPB).

5. A sample of the pest control product, and samples of the technical grade and analytical laboratory standard of the active ingredient.

6. Introductory fee of KSh10,000 to obtain an experimental permit

Stage 4

The registrar will also require the submission of a commercial label reflecting the application rates, the timing of the application as recommended by the local researcher. Every person desiring to register a pest control product is requested to submit an application for registration, an experimental label and a copy of a dossier of technical information.

Stage 5

Kenya’s pesticide registration committee with members drawn from the Ministry of Health, KARI, Coffee Research Foundation and Kenya Bureau of Standards then makes a recommendation to the board for the registration of a product or rejection of the application.

If the board is satisfied with the information provided, the product is released under experimental permit for a local biological efficacy trial.

If the board is satisfied with the safety, efficacy, quality and economic value of the product, it is granted full registration for three years and a certificate of registration is issued. The certificate can be renewed after every two years.

Under special circumstances, a product may be granted temporary registration for a period not exceeding 12 months, within which the missing technical information or scientific information should be provided.

Such special circumstances include cases where emergency control of infestations is needed or where an applicant commits to producing additional information.

Stage 6

On completion of the biological efficacy trial, a confidential report is sent to the PCPB.

Submission of a commercial label reflecting the application rates, the timing of application as recommended by the local researcher, among other things: If the Board is satisfied with the information provided, the product is released under experimental permit for local biological efficacy trials. This is conducted by institutions/researchers that have been accredited by the board. The list of accredited institutions/researchers is available at the PCPB.

If a registration is rejected, the applicant would be communicated with the reasons in writing.

Africa is rising, and draws attention from all over the world. Agriculture is one of Africa's most important economic sectors, making up 23% of the continent's GDP. Africa is slowly developing a dependence on agricultural pesticides to protect crops from damaging diseases, insects and weeds.

To explore the opportunities and challenges of African Agrochemical Market, AgroPages is about to dialogue with dynamic companies, domestic and overseas, trying to shaping the picture of this continent.

Please feel free to contact us to share your African stories with us. Your insights are, and will be invaluable to us and to our readers. If you want to join the discussion, please contact us via drake@agropages.com

By Drake Liu

By Drake Liu

Editor of AgroPages