ABSTRACT

In most countries, fresh produce sold at local markets is usually not analyzed for agricultural chemical residues as export products are, which raises concerns about the perceived safety levels of local food supplies in contrast with exported products. The aim of this study was to determine pesticide residue levels in fruits and vegetables sold at two of the biggest fresh produce markets in Africa. A total of 199 fruit and vegetable samples were collected between 2012 and 2014 and analyzed for 74 pesticides commonly used in the horticultural sector. Of the samples analyzed, 91% were compliant with set maximum residue levels (MRLs). The remaining samples either contained unregistered chemicals (8%) or exceeded set MRL values (1%). Products containing more than one pesticide residue constituted 4.02% of all samples tested. Imazalil and iprodione were found to be the most frequently detected pesticides (12 samples each). Boscalid, endosulfan, profenofos, and procymidone were associated with the most noncompliance, including exceeding MRL values or being unregistered for the specific crop. The establishment of a national pesticide monitoring program is essential for the country and would ensure that pesticides are used in accordance with good agricultural practices.

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