SC Johnson has partnered with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture to help Rwanda pyrethrum farmers boost incomes while creating an environmentally and economically sustainable raw materials source.
Pyrethrum, or py, is a fast-acting and highly effective insecticide extracted from the dried flower heads of chrysanthemums. As a leading manufacturer of insect control products, SC Johnson needs a consistent supply of py for some of its insecticide products such as Raid and Baygon.
The three-year extension of the initial 28-month Rwanda Pyrethrum Program will focus on increasing both production and quality of pyrethrum and on strengthening and expanding the capacity of the cooperative organizations that the farmers rely on to market their crops, SC Johnson says.
The pyrethrum project began in 2009. Several years into the partnership, four years of declining crop yields have been reversed and production has exceeded project objectives, SC Johnson says. The volume of dry flower production has nearly tripled since the project’s inception.
The next phase of the project will emphasize increasing pyrethrum quality and production. New and current producers will have access to best practices as well as the results of research and development being conducted in areas such as soil fertility management, improved weeding techniques and pest management protocol. The Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB), the Ministry of Agriculture’s research arm, will assist with these research efforts. Additionally, improvements to post-harvest handling, storage and infrastructure will be made.
Empowering female farmers will also be an area of emphasis. The future work plan includes development of a women-run waste composting enterprise to increase women’s income and improve soil quality, thus also increasing the productivity of the pyrethrum fields. The raw material for this enterprise will be organic waste from a nearby marketplace.
The compost produced will be available for purchase through the cooperatives and can be applied to farmers’ pyrethrum but also may be used on home gardens and other horticultural crops for either consumption or sale.
Earlier this year, SC Johnson launched Ziplock Brand Compostable Bags designed for use in commercial composting facilities that accept food scraps and compostable bags.