International Rice Research Institute, Los Baños, Philippines
FMCG or Fast-moving consumer goods (also known as Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) are products that have quick turnover, require less thinking by consumers and utilize advertising and promotional strategies to create emotional buying. Such selling strategies used in pesticides will tend to promote overuse, unnecessary use and misuse.
Insecticide misuse is an important cause of the current planthopper outbreaks in Asia, namely Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines. The misuse brings about the pesticide tsunami that destroys ecosystem services and create conditions that favor r-strategists, like the rice planthoppers.
IRRI, ADB and FAO recently sponsored a workshop on “Rice Planthopper Problems and Insecticide Use – Developing Sustainable Interventions, Structures and Policies” in Bangkok, Thailand. Delegates from 8 countries in ASEAN, FAO and IRRI discussed the current state of insecticide abuse in rice, increases in insecticide imports , wrong selection of insecticides, proliferation of trade names, advertising and promotional schemes. Dr Larry Wong, an economist and a complete outsider to pest management issues, raised a very important question: “Why are pesticides, which are poisons, allowed to be sold as FMCG?”. As Albert Einstein once pointed out “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Except for Malaysia, in the other 7 countries in the workshop pesticides are sold as FMCG. In developed countries, pesticide sales and distribution are regulated and advertisements and promotional schemes controlled. Using the supply chain approach, the workshop developed a framework and instruments for country delegates to return, gather data and analyze their respective scenarios of both the pesticide and information supply chains. The analyses will help identify the weak links, the obstacles, factors that are favoring misuse, the disconnections and mismatches in the two supply chains that can help in developing policy engagement series to initiate change.
In the preliminary analyses and discussions, several observations were apparent. The information supply chain that begins from research/extension reach a small proportion of farmers through the usual extension techniques and training programs. Most farmers however rely on the local pesticide dealers for pest management information, advice and pesticide recommendations often using chemicals that cause planthopper resurgences and outbreaks, like pyrethroids (Read: farmers’ insecticide selection). In Thailand as many as 16 pesticide sale promotion schemes to entice farmers to buy were listed, which included, cash rewards, lottery tickets, bonuses, free holiday trips, packaged with free seeds and credit schemes. Table 1 compares insecticide use based on IPM and FMCG which shows the conflicts which probably explains why there are > 500 brand names for one active ingredient, brand names that suggest killing power, like “Kill All Big and Small” and providing incentives focusing on sales volumes.
Table 1: Comparison of insecticide use based on IPM and FMCG
|Insecticide Use Based on IPM||Insecticide Use Based on FMCG|
|Based on rational decision making skills. Judicious use||Driven by product packaging, brand names, attractiveness, recalls.|
|Need to use knowledge on pests, natural enemies, predation.||Less (or no) thinking needed. Example calendar spraying schedules|
|Maximize value of knowledge||Maximize value of sales|
|Based on economic rationales||Based on emotions, viz status, desire, fear, perceptions, sense of power, price|