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December Quarterly Newsletter – Wishing you a happy festive season

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Season’s Greetings from the Dudutech Team.

2016 was an exciting year for Dudutech. New developments, a growing team with new members and a great positive spirit all around.

Dudutech Europe

Dudutech opened its Netherlands office in April 2016. We are located on Jupiter 185, Honselersdijk. We proudly presented Dudutech Europe at this year’s IFTF, Vijfhuizen Trade Show.

Our theme’s this year at the show were products SLUGTECH (Phasmarhabditis Hermaphrodita) a beneficial nematode for control of slugs and
NEMATECH S (Steinernema Feltiae) a beneficial nematode for the control of thrips pupa and for the larval stage of the Sciarid fly.Our team demonstrated the key factors in using our products and discussed how we can support you with our Integrated Pest Management solutions.

Guest Lecturers

Covering East Africa, the Dudutech Training team had a successful year.

We invited Australian “Plant Health and Wealth” expert, Graeme Sait to collaborate with Dudutech to host a conference and training day at the Simba Lodge in Naivasha. Graeme covered the following key areas: The Marvels of Organic Matter, The Seven Principles of Productivity, The bounty of balance, Seven Life Changing Strategies, Managing Microbes, Lessons from the leaf, and Programming for profit. Guests left the day rich with knowledge and excited to start implementing Graeme’s key success points.

Vermicomposting Training

On December 5th Dudutech carried out a Vermicomposting training for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in western Kenya. This training brought together 139 participants lead by our Dudutech trainer George Mala. The training consisted of lectures on compositing, the right materials, environmental conditions, worm type, different set-ups, vermicompost value, application rates and followed by practical training in the field with the host farmers. We received reports back that there is great amounts of enthusiasm around composting from the farmers in this area.

Partners

In August we partnered with Kenya Markets Trust and KALRO (Kenya Agricultural Livestock and Research Organisation) to launch our BioPesticide products for small-scale farmers in Kenya. This event was aimed to create National awareness on BioPesticides for Improved Food Productivity, Safety and Security. We invited over 300 small-scale farmers from the Meru and Kirinyaga counties to discuss their learnings from the pilot projects Dudutech held on their farms. Dudutech also shared innovative ways of rolling out the same technology and information to more farmers countrywide. It was a pleasure to have various stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture, County Officials, Researchers, Producers, Distributors, Non-Governmental Associations, and representatives from Academia present as guests and speaking at this event. We were honored to have KALRO’s Dr. Lusike as our key note speaker and the representative who opened the ceremony.

Training in Zimbabwe

Our team has just completed a training in Zimbabwe, with our Distributor Philip Weller reporting back that it was “great to see that the guests got a better understanding of IPM. The growers really enjoyed the NEMguard presentation and how effective it is with Dudutech Products. In all, a positive day with growers really appreciating the effort Dudutech made”

Follow the ladybird

Follow our social platforms and stay tuned for exciting new developments in 2017. We thank you, our esteemed client, for your continuous support and business this year and we look forward to an even better working relationship with you in 2017.

Role of IPM in reduction of pesticide residues in export beans

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French bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) is the most important horticultural crop in Kenya and accounts for over 60% of all exported vegetables. The main share of production is the small scale farmers who contribute more than 80% of production, and rely mainly on pesticides for pest management. French beans production involves high use of pesticides withm Many farmers reportedly applying up to 11 sprays per season, resulting in residue problems. This is partly fuelled by consumers in the developed countries, who form the bulk of the market for the French bean crop from developing countries, demanding for French beans with specific attributes such as size and spotlessness. This therefore, encourages farmers to rely increasingly on the use of pesticides to control pests. But the acceptable tolerance for pesticides residue in French beans is a major concern to the consumers. Among measures put in place in the importing countries are standards that require food products to meet prescribed maximum residue levels (MRLs) and another to reduce exposure of farm workers and other non-target fauna and flora. Emphasis is placed on consumer safety by use of approved less toxic pesticides and strict observance of the pre-harvest intervals which prescribes the latest date for pesticides use for ensuring safe residue levels.

In Kenya, there is growing evidence to show that alternative approaches and products are effective at managing pests without the side-effects associated with reliance on pesticides. Many farmers are successfully implementing Integrated Pest Management (IPM) on many different types of crops.

Dudutech has experience and proven track record in developing alternates to pesticides and in training and information on Good Agri-Practices (GAP) aimed at of giving farmers the skills, knowledge and confidence to make ecologically, socially and economically sound decisions on crop health. The alternatives such as traps, pheromones, and biocontrol products that play a role in IPM strategies are widely available. There is a wide range of Biological Control products (BCPs), that Dudutech is currently licensed to manufacture and distribute. The main products for French beans-IPM solutions are (Lecatech® (Lecanicilium lecani) for the control of whiteflies, thrips and aphids; Beauvitech® (Beauveria bassiana) for the control of thrips and whiteflies; Mytech® (Paecilomyces lilacanus) for the control of plant parasitic nematodes; Nematech H® (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) for the control of cutworms, caterpillars and leafminer and Trichotech® (Trichoderma spp.) for the control of Fusarium, Pythium, Sclerotinia and Rhizoctonia).

What the industry desperately needs is an integrated approach to pest management. We need products which will replace pesticides. This ensures French beans do not exceed set MRLs. This approach has been adopted mainly by large scale producers who constitute over 20% of French beans production, while increasing farm income. Declaring IPM as the crop protection approach of choice is the way to go.

Biological pesticides are key to improving sustainability

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Finlays Horticulture, a supplier to M&S, are moving away from using synthetic pesticides, in response to increasing concerns over the effect they are having on the environment. With insects becoming more resistant to synthetic pesticides as well as the unknown effects that they may be having on farm workers and consumers, an alternative was needed.

In 2001 there were very few biological products available and Dudutech was started to develop biological products and create an integrated pest management strategy (IPM). Dudutech pioneered IPM in Kenya, finding and developing local strains of beneficial organisms, and innovative methods of application.

Taking the lead in this area, Dudutech has grown into an organisation employing more than 210 people, producing 17 products, and has successfully developed biological, physical and cultural methods to replace many traditional pesticide treatments.

Identifying that over 60% of insecticides used in flowers were to control the spidermite, Dudutech introduced a voracious predatory mite called Phytoseiulus persimilis to reduce the need for mite control pesticides. At Finlay Flowers South Africa, Phytoseiulus has reduced the level of synthetic pesticides used to combat spidermites to zero, and all 21 hectares of chrysanthemums are fully under this system. At present 90% of Finlays Horticulture’s farms only use biological methods to control spidermites and 100% of the area is under some form of IPM.

Recognising that a healthy soil grows a healthy plant, Dudutech has developed a wide range of beneficial soil organisms that are used on all Finlays Horticulture Farms. This has resulted in a further reduction in synthetic pesticide and fertilizer use, together with increasing soil biodiversity in line with the Finlays’ motto of long term sustainability.

A great example of ‘Environmentally Intelligent Farming’ in action!

The impetus of ‘hot spot treatment’ approach to bio-control in ornamentals

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The primary goal of bio-control is to optimize pest management in an economically sound, socially acceptable and environmentally friendly manner. Contrary to the initial perception that bio-control was optional and only applied to suppliers accessing certain direct markets in Europe, the past decade has seen a steady growth of bio-control across the Kenyan horticultural industry resulting in massive reduction in pesticide inputs. While stricter local and international regulation of pesticides have certainly played a part in this current state of affairs, greater flexibility and practicability of bio-control on the day to day farm operations are equally important.

Hot spot

IPM practitioners must continuously innovate and adopt specific techniques to judiciously manage pests in a sustainable way. One of the techniques gaining immense popularity is hot spot treatment. A hot spot is an unusual pressure point with relatively higher pest population in relation to homogeneity of its distribution on a crop. Hot spot treatment has been singled out as one of the viable methods of managing costs, reducing pesticide residues levels, countering secondary pests (e.g. mealybugs) outbreaks, managing resistance and ultimately producing quality flowers free of pests and diseases.

Dudutech pioneered this technique in partnership with DANIDA scientists in a study done in one of the Kenyan major horticultural farms. In the greenhouses where hot spot application of PHYTOTECH® (Phytosieulus persimilis) were done to target red spider mites, quicker control was achieved with fewer numbers of the bio-control agents (Phytosieulus spp) introduced compared to where blanket applications of the same were done. It was also noted that mortality due to sprays targeting other pests was minimal as the treated spots can be avoided. Another benefit observed was in the management of other pests especially mealybugs. Mealybugs share the same host niche as red spider mites in relation to crop canopy and have recently emerged as one of the most difficult pests to manage due to their complex physical characteristics. Growers have the option of spot spraying mealybug spots with their products of choice continuously without fear of suspending or affecting their bio-logical control programme unlike the blanket sprays.

Opportunity

On a number of field trials done in different flower growing regions in Kenya, the hot spot concept has successfully wiped out the issue of intermittent use of Phytoseiulus spp due to what is perceived as secondary pest infestation. Growers on massive hacterage have also gotten a reprieve due to the quantities applied per area treated against the actual projected blanket treatment. This has resulted into unusual demand for Biological control agents and eroded the element of cost. Another hidden benefit related to this concept is the opportunity to integrate other biological control agents with minimal cost and greater benefits. In conclusion, I can assure growers that with the adoption of the hot spot approach, one can effectively achieve satisfactory pest control saving up to 40-60% of their IPM budget. Patience, commitment, trust, precise scouting and the will to invest remain the key pillars of a successful IPM programme.

Finlays Kingfisher Farm

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Sustainability. Recycling. This according to Finlays Kingfisher Farm general manager Craig Oulton is the mantra that drives the giant flower producer’s operations worldwide. “We must give back to the environment what we take out for sustainability of the business”, the Lake Naivasha environment champion says.

Finlays is a vertically integrated horticulture firm producing and exporting flowers and vegetables grown in Kericho, Naivasha and Nanyuki.

Kenya, he says, is way ahead of its peers in the flower production business and is positioned to show the world its best practices.

Finlays Kingfisher farm grows 92 hectares of roses, spray carnations, solidago and sunflower through a mix of tunnels and outdoor farming.

Its products are marketed direct to the UK and Germany where it has two retail arms. The balance finds it’s way to the US, Holland, Japan, South Africa and Australia.

The 30-year Kingfisher farm stands where one of the pioneers of Kenya’s flower industry, Sulmac used to be until 2000 when it was sold by CDC to another flower giant, Homegrown, that was in turn acquired by James Finlay in 2007.

“Finlays is a unique farming business”, says Craig pointing at a row of aquatic plants and bottles of water arranged on a table displaying a stage-by-stage account of the process of natural water recycling at the constructed wetland.

Here, used water from the canteen, washrooms and pack house is collected and directed to a wetland where a mix of plants and other purification methods soak dirt finally producing clean water that is ready to be released back to the environment.

In the greenhouses, the farm employs hydroponics technology, reputed as the most economical water and nutrients plant feeding method yet.

Plants are grown in a medium fitted with drip lines from a central place where fertigation is done. Crops take only what is required and the rest goes back to the tank for purification and replenishing. “With hydroponics there is no wastage of water or nutrients”, he emphasized.

Recycling at Finlays has been extended to old greenhouses that are recycled into posts, beehives and nails. Mature rose stocks and papyrus are converted into charcoal, a much used fuel that gives a lease of life to trees.

“The reason we take all these steps,” Craig reiterates, “is to create a happy working environment. This far, we have a happy workforce, we are surrounded by a community we support and we have curved a niche market that is happy with our products. We provide a bus to take workers to and from work, they get meals at the staff canteen, they work for stipulated hours; are provided with protective gear and trained as necessary.”

The firm’s hospital in Naivasha serves not only its staff but also the surrounding community and neighbouring farm’s workers. It is free for staff and family, and subsidized for the rest of the users even for specialized services like X-rays.

Finlay has a battery of certification labels – Fairtrade, Kenya Flower Council Gold, MPS and many more. Through Fairtrade premiums, the farm provides wood to schools, has one of the few working fire engines in the town and conducts training on management of Lake Naivasha. It also funds the staff children education bursary.

To live up to all work and no play makes a dull Jack, the farm has created sports teams, with layers doing a great job of serving as its ambassadors.

Flower picker Keziah Chege says Finlays is her second home after working here for 10 years. “We get transport to work and back home, I am able to take care of my family and educate my children,” she says.

Most of the workers at Finlays are permanent and undergo regular training in their respective work stations and core principals of sustainable production.

The farm has been on a pesticides reduction regime with its sister company Dudutech developing biological products and methods of pests and diseases management. “We never use pesticides unless we must”, said Craig.

“The rationale behind the things we do here – staff and management – is pride in our work and sustainability. We are not here for the short-term,” Craig says.

The future of businesses adds Craig, is a clear social and environmental sustainability structure, which has been created at Finlays, the key reason why the farm is an accredited grower, and among the four KFC Gold certified farms.

Water and energy, the world’s most talked about resources that are diminishing fast threatening livelihoods and spiraling production costs are under daily watch through a Key Performance Indicator system (KPI) that monitors usage, identifies areas of high application and means sort to reduce the digits. “We micromanage usage of water by metering all critical points like watering crops, pack houses, and washrooms; we graph usage with the objective to reduce year- on – year basis, at least by 10-20 per cent,” says Craig. Recently the farm started using donkeys to move flowers from the greenhouses to the pack house to reduce fuel and impact on environment, and to make offer a useful home to the animals most of which have been rescued.

The farm is evaluating the production of biogas. We are also introducing day-neutral varieties to replace short day flowers. It is our intent to reduce the need to extend lighting at night in the greenhouse in addition to the energy saving bulbs that are being used. “These steps are meant to reduce the cost of electricity, the single largest utility budget,” said Craig.