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Life of Py

August 28, 2013

SCJ's Rwanda Pyrethrum Program is designed to help farmers and create sustainable raw material source for insecticide.

SC Johnson, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and The Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture have announced the Rwanda Pyrethrum Program, a Global Development Alliance (GDA) public-private partnership designed to help Rwanda pyrethrum farmers boost incomes while creating an environmentally and economically sustainable raw materials source.

The three-year extension of the initial 28-month program focuses 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 is committed to making life better for families around the world, and this initiative is an example of the value of partnerships that help drive local economic growth while creating sustainable crops like pyrethrum that are purchased by companies like SC Johnson," said Fisk Johnson, chairman and CEO of SC Johnson. "We're thrilled to move into the next phase of this very important partnership and to continue this mutually beneficial work."

Pyrethrum, or py, is a fast-acting and highly-effective insecticide extracted from the dried flower heads of chrysanthemums (Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium). As the world's leading manufacturer of insect control products, SC Johnson needs a consistent supply of py for some of its well-known consumer insecticide products such as Raid and Baygon.

The pyrethrum project began in 2009 following a farmer's request for assistance in drying pyrethrum flowers during a November 2007 growers' town hall meeting. Identifying the need for assistance with proper drying was crucial as the drying stage of the pyrethrum extraction process is a key challenge to consistent supply; the first phase of the project therefore focused on enhancing the collection, drying and transportation of higher quality pyrethrum flowers.

Several years into the partnership, four years of declining crop yields have been reversed and production has exceeded project objectives. 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, including promoting their participation in the development of cooperatives. 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. Additionally, all cooperatives will be strengthened with improved communication and enhanced operational and financial managem