Kenya's pyrethrum industry is booming as a result of international public pressure to protect the environment from further contamination by chemical pollutants.
CU Pyrethrum flowers (2 shots)
GV PAN FROM women picking flowers and putting them into baskets (5 shots)
CU & SV Women picking flowers and putting them into baskets (5 shots)
SV Women carry sacks of flowers away from field
SV Women spread flowers in drying trays (5 shots)
CU & GV Flower emblem outside factory (2 shots)
CU Sign "Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya"
GV INTERIOR factory
SV & CU INTERIOR Pyrethrum extract being poured into drums (3 shots)
CU Name on drum "pyrethrum"
Initials OS/1111 OS/1131
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Background: Kenya's pyrethrum industry is booming as a result of international public pressure to protect the environment from further contamination by chemical pollutants. Pyrethrum is an insecticide made from a daisy-like flower. Unlike most synthetic insecticides, it has a long and unique record of safety in a wide range of usages.
A few years ago it looked as if pyrethrum marketing was a dying industry. Today there is an unprecedented demand for it with all the indications of further expansion in the years ahead. In the past 12 months the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya has sold all the pyrethrum it could produce. Unfavourable weather conditions hampered production last year and supplies to overseas customers had to be rationed on the basis of previous orders.
The pyrethrum flowers are grown in the highlands of Kenya at altitudes between 6,000 and 9,000 feet (approximately 2,000 and 3,000 metres). Much of the produce comes from African co-operative farms which send their harvests to the Pyrethrum Board's extraction plant at Nakuru. The farmers and smallholders are being encouraged to grow more pyrethrum by receiving higher prices for their crops. Production has risen dramatically this year but even so, it will be a considerable time before supply catches up with demand.
SYNOPSIS: These attractive daisy-like flowers are pyrethrum. From them a highly-effective pesticide is produced. The plant is grown in the Highlands of Kenya. Pyrethrum is non-toxic to plants and animals. As a result it is in great demand as international pressure mounts to protect the environment from chemical pollutants. These Kikuyu women are harvesting the flowers in fields overlooking the Rift Valley near Nakuru, 100 miles from Nairobi.
The workers usually pick about 30 pounds weight of flowers a day butt some individuals have been known to collect as much as 70 pounds. In Kenya the crop grows at altitudes between 6,000 and 9,000 feet - and the greater the height, the higher the yield. The Highlands of Kenya are well suited to the crop because of their steady rainfall and fertile soil. Singing boosts the picking rate.
The harvest is carried in sacks to a drying area. Many pickers work on plantations run by African co-operatives. The flowers are dried in trays, usually in open-sided sheds. The object is to remove all moisture from the flowers without damaging their valuable pyrethrin content. Some are sun-dried. Most are put into special driers for which locally-grown gum trees produce a cheap fuel.
The dried flowers are despatched to the extraction plant at Nakuru, Kenya's agricultural capital. The Pyrethrum Board buys all that the growers can produce.
The processed pyrethrum is exported all over the world. But production cannot keep up with the demand sparked off by growing international awareness of the danger of pollution from other insecticides. Last year efforts to increase Kenya's exports were hindered by unfavourable weather. This year output is soaring -- and the Pyrethrum Board is encouraging further expansion by raising prices to the growers.