Sustainable Farming and Economic Development in Rwanda: SC Johnson Supports Pyrethrum Flower Farming
by SC Johnson
As part of our commitment to make life better for families, for more than a decade we have been looking for opportunities to invest in economic development at the base of the world’s economic pyramid, known as the “base of the pyramid” or “BOP.”
A recent example is our partnership with The Coca-Cola Company and Society for Family Health Rwanda on the. In it, women-run community stores provide mosquito repellents and other needed resources in rural communities.
But that is not our only effort. For example, from 2007 to 2015, we invested in helping strengthen and expand the capacity of local farming cooperatives in Rwanda.
Pyrethrum, or “py,” is a plant-based insecticide extracted from heads of dried chrysanthemum flowers. It is farmed by rural farmers in Africa.
SC Johnson uses py in the production of some of our products, such as Raid® and Baygon® insecticides sold around the world. So, it is important to us to have a reliable source of pyrethrum production. We began exploring opportunities to support Rwandan py farmers in 2007, building on our 40-year history of purchasing py from East Africa and our work to stabilise the supply there.
In 2009, we kicked off a formal partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M University called the Rwanda Pyrethrum Project. The goal was to improve incomes and standards of living for py farmers by increasing crop outputs and improving the quality of the py flowers they farmed.
Over the years, the partnership drove numerous advances:
- A farmers cooperative was created to promote best practices for py collection and transportation.
- Within the cooperative, groups of growers reorganised to remove middlemen that were siphoning money from the py value chain, and instead keep the profits with the farmers.
- Agronomic techniques were shared to raise the income farmers could get from the same amount of land planted with py.
- Health information was provided to farming families through the co-ops, to help them stay healthy.
- Co-operative members received training in financial management, leadership and good governance, equipping them to be more effective in future business dealing.
- The Py Lifeline Project brought crank-powered radios to remote farming communities, enabling ongoing access to farming news, market trends and wellness information, as well as pre-loaded programming on topics such as best practices for seed propagation and harvesting.
- Sustainability training introduced sustainable farming tools and the benefits of a sustainable approach for the farmers’ businesses.
By the time the Rwanda Pyrethrum programme wrapped up in June 2015, py production in Rwanda had increased 371 percent and the value to farmers had increased to more than $1.5 million in 2015.
More than 5,000 farming families were assisted by the programme, which also sought to empower female farmers and afford them equal access to decision-making and profit-sharing within the cooperative.
Maria Nyirambonizanye, a member of a group of 82 female pyrethrum farmers who organised a savings group through the programme, said that her family’s finances improved significantly. “I do not struggle anymore wondering where school fees are going to come from,” she explained.
During the last phase of the partnership, responsibility and organisation of the Rwanda Pyrethrum programme were transferred to local partners to ensure that the pyrethrum farmers and their communities will continue to benefit for years to come.
Source and Images: www.scjohnson.com
by Paul Donovan
This is a handy biodegradable organic insecticide you can make yourself, says Paul Donovan.
About 200 years ago in Asia, it was noticed for the first time that some insects would not visit certain plants. Those that did died shortly afterwards. One group of such plants was the chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum or Tanacetum), a group of Old World plants, now cultivated as ornamentals.
Human ingenuity being what it is, someone got the idea to pick and dry the flowerheads, crush them into a powder and sprinkle it on other plants. It worked; insects visiting these plants died. And so insecticides were born. The chemical in the crushed flower head responsible for its insecticidal property is pyrethrum, which contains the compounds pyrethrin and cinerin. In the Middle East the powder was sold as ‘Persian powder’ and was used to control lice.
The most economically important chrysanthemum for the extraction of pyrethrum is the Dalmatian chrysanthemum (Tanacetum cinerariifolium). Pyrethrum is extracted from the flowers with the aid of solvents and sold in liquid or powder form. Just over 10 years ago, Kenya was the largest producer of pyrethrum, accounting for 90% (6 000t) of the world’s demand. It now faces stiff competition from Tanzania and Australia.
How it works
Pyrethrum is a relatively environmentally friendly, biodegradable organic insecticide, which breaks down quickly when exposed to sunlight. It is less toxic to mammals and birds than many synthetic insecticides. A nerve inhibitor, pyrethrum kills the insect by targeting its nervous system. In a less concentrated form, it can also act as an insect repellent. Outdoor clothing and mosquito nets are sometimes treated with it.
Pyrethrum is one of many botanical insecticides that can be made more effective by mixing it with similar agents such as Neem oil or insecticidal soap while still retaining its low environmental impact properties. These botanicals broaden the scope of pest species that pyrethrum can be used against. Such combinations have been shown to be effective against aphid infestation, spider mite, scale insects, thrips, and many species of leaf-eating insects.
Apart from the fact that pyrethrum has a low toxicity level, it breaks down rapidly after application. For this reason, it is considered safe for use on fruit trees and crops right up to harvest time.
Beware the toxicity!
Although a natural insecticide, pyrethrum does have a number of drawbacks. It is toxic to bees, so should not be used during pollination time. It should also not be used near water or enclosed ponds, as it is toxic to fish. Importantly, it should not be confused with permethrin. The latter is a man-made insecticide, the chemical composition of which is based on pyrethrum. But permethrin also contains a synthetic chemical called piperonyl butoxide, so is less environmentally friendly.
Make your own
You can easily make pyrethrum in your kitchen. All you need are some mature chrysanthemum flower heads – the best species are Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium or Tanacetum cinerariifolium. Dry the flower heads and transfer them to a dark, airtight container.
When required, simply grind the flower heads into a fine dust and sprinkle this onto the pest-laden plants. If you wish to use pyrethrum as a spray, mix 50g powder with 10l of water. This dilution is suitable for most of the small pests, such as aphids, spider mites and so forth.
Although pyrethrum is a natural insecticide, wear protective gloves while making it, and don a mask to avoid inhaling it.
Home Production of Pyrethrum
Pyrethrum is a botanical insecticide produced from Dalmatian Chrysanthemums or, less frequently, from Persian Chrysanthemums plants that originated in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. This guideline describes the varieties, the conditions needed to grow, the management, harvest, drying, crushing and spraying of Pyrethrum amongst other helping tips.
Pyrethrum: a white flower with significant business potential for Rwanda
A little white flower is bringing bright prospects for Rwanda’s economy, and the lives of thousands of small farmers in the process. One of just four major countries that grow pyrethrum, a flower refined into a highly demanded, natural, flower-based pesticide, Rwanda has been actively working to revive this once near-collapsed industry, and for good reason. With 70% to 80% of the pure active ingredients, Rwanda’s rich volcanic soil has the potential to produce some of the world’s best pyrethrum. This article shares the success of pyrethrum farming in Rwanda.
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Pyrethrum Report mainly includes sales, revenue, trade, competition, investment, forecast and marketing of the product and the segments here include companies, types, applications, regions, countries, etc. Global “Pyrethrum Market” report 2020 gives complete research on market size in the form of value, capacity, production and consumption in key regions like North America, Europe, Asia Pacific (China, Japan) and other regions. Read more..
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