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Case Study: Food Security & Nutrition

Producing Bioactive Nettings to Protect Crops Againsts Pests

Farming First Farming First

As part of GCARD 2010, Farming First hosted a session entitled ‘Better Benefiting the Poor through Public-Private Partnerships for Innovation and Action.’ Within the discussions, our panel of experts addressed several case studies that present different ways that partnerships have helped to empower smallholder farmers around the world.

Anuj Shah – A to Z Textile Mills Ltd

For almost a decade, A to Z textiles has been involved in an innovative partnership with Sumitomo to develop long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets. Building on the experience with lessons learned through this first partnership, A to Z is now working to build a new partnership to apply a similar concept to help farmers in their fight against pests. The new venture will focus on the development of a bioactive net (i.e. insecticidal), which can be used to cover crops and protect them from pest damage.

The original mosquito net, a permethrin insecticide-impregnated net called Olyset Net, started out as a collaboration between two French institutes CIRAD and IRD, and the international R&D company Sumitomo Chemical.  It is the first ever to receive a full recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the fight against malaria.

The technology behind the Olyset Net has proven extremely successful, showing that nets can retain their properties over long periods of time and provide effective protection. The A to Z team hopes to apply a similar method to create a cost-effective and sage method for protecting crops against major mite species and insects. Tests on cabbage crops in Benin found that using an insecticide-treated net once every three nights was more than twice as effective on the crop yield as the application of insecticides. This increased the value of their crop by an estimated 45%.

When used correctly, these agricultural nets should be able to last for five years (compared to the six-month lifespan of standard sprayed nets) and they leave no residue either on the plants or on the people who apply them. The cost of using the net is less than conventional pesticide use and requires fewer trips to market for purchase.

The success of this scheme will rely on the partnership upon which it is developed. Combining the tools of research institutions, the production capacities of local manufacturers, and the policy support and networks of public bodies, agricultural partnerships can help ensure hat they world’s farmers continue to be empowered to produce enough to feed the world sustainably.

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