Kenyan pyrethrum will blossom again

Keniaans pyrethrum komt opnieuw tot bloei © Creative CommonsPyrethrum is a beautiful flower, though insects don’t appreciate it. Kenya once was big in this raw material for insecticides. The sector collapsed because of governmental mismanagement. After much lobbying however, the industry seems to blossom again.

It used to be the fourth sector of Kenya, Justus Monda tells with melancholy. First you had tea, then coffee, then tourism and right behind that pyrethrum. A chrysanthemum-like plant which is the base of organic insecticides. Kenya delivered 57 percent of the global demand. Today that’s maybe only 2 percent, estimates Monda, the Chairman of the Pyrethrum Growers Association.

The relevance of pyrethrum to Europe and Asia is not reduced. And in Kenya, the organic sector is growing, so there will be also an internal demand for organic pesticides.

‘The government neglected us’

The problem lies with the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PKB). This governmental institution

Justus Monda, voorzitter van de Pyrethrum Growers Association of Kenya © Agriterra
Justus Monda, Chairman of the Pyrethrum Growers Association of Kenya © Agriterra

controls the whole production chain. From distribution to purchasing and processing of the pyrethrum extracts. And it didn’t function for years. Monda: ‘The government has neglected us.’
The 6,000 members of the Pyrethrum Growers Association (PGA) of Monda want to break down the monopoly of the PBK. PGA therefore has successfully lobbied for an amendment. The new law was adopted in early 2013 by the Parliament.
Monda has been lobbying firm, using a training by Agriterra and their tool FACT, a system for advocacy and lobbying that this organization has developed.
The government encourages the sector to start growing pyrethrum again. For Justus Monda and his PGA it will be an important job to give substance to the new law, so that soon the Kenyan pyrethrum growers can produce under a favourable economic environment with good market potentials.
Kenya has currently one installation for the processing of pyrethrum. This is owned by the PKB. The extraction is exported.
Monda would prefer that at least a small part of the Kenyan pyrethrum extraction would domestically be transformed into insecticide. ‘This is necessary. Of course, knowledge is also required; the sector must be rebuilt. But we will also have to produce domestically. And therefore we will need investors.’

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