It has been estimated that more than 40% of the world’s food production is lost because crops are destroyed by pests and diseases. Once harvested, an additional 20% may be lost during storage and transport. Aside from the economic loss they can cause, pests are a known as vector for diseases, may contaminate products and cause structural damage to facilities. Clearly, everything possible should be done to reduce further loss due to pests within the confines of the manufacturing environment.
Increased awareness of the adverse effects that pesticides have on the environment, the consumer and the safety of our food has led to the need for more sustainable agricultural production systems. Integrated Pest Management and Good Agricultural Practices have become essential components of sustainable agriculture. The integration of various control measures, where pesticides are used only as a last resort, ensures that pests remain below the economic threshold, thus supporting food safety and international market access. But without supportive and enabling policies and institutions integrated pest management will fail.
Despite the classic pest control techniques that have been promoted, food insecurity and foodborne hazards related to pest infestation are still yet to be overcome. Benin as many other countries in the world faces a dramatic food insecurity mostly due to damages caused by pests.
Because of inadequate pest management strategies, foodborne pathogens transmitted by pests and pesticide residues in food has increased and represent a serious threat to exportations.
In Benin, as a matter of fact, the misuse of pesticides in cotton farms has led to the pollution of water bodies resulting in intolerable levels of pesticide residues in halieutic resources and this is the main reason of the ban of Beninese shrimp in the international market. Moreover, pest infestations mainly flies in catering institutions and food industries are at the bases of many food poisoning and enteric diseases such cholera, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, listeriosis, shigella infections with high morbidity and mortality along with revenue loss in Benin.
The ongoing Lassa haemorrhagic fever outbreak in Benin that has claimed over 200 cases and a dozen of death is actually caused by a virus transmitted by an autochthonous rodent in food products. The effective control of this situation requires a holistic approach of pest control which is none else than integrated pest management (IPM) that can involve all stakeholders of the food chain from the primary production to consumers’ table.
There is an urgent need to implement research that will be used to revolutionize pest control strategies in the country and communicate results to decision makers who can in turn initiate trainings and sensitization to food stakeholders on IMP.
Furthermore, as many research institutes of Benin are already involved in natural product research, I would suggest research projects towards the use of medicinal plants in pest control at local level to curb environmental pollution by chemical pesticides and food hazards related to pesticide residues.
The adoption of Integrated pest management in Benin and other African countries will solve many problems including food safety and nutrition challenges, food insecurity and food loss, Public Health threats (such as viral outbreaks) and alleviate poverty by supporting livelihood.
Integrated pest management in food industry requires the combination of the 3 elements described below with a critical emphasis on GOOD AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES DURING PRIMARY PRODUCTION.
This is the most effective way to control the entry of pests: insects, rodents and birds into your premises. It may be costly in the first place but will provide long lasting protection and minimal upkeep in the future.
This process refers to the methods used in creating unfavourable conditions for pests to harbour and breed. There are many ways in which you can do this including: sealing gaps between tiles; replacing broken tiles; removing all food and liquid wastes; not leaving dirty crockery and cutlery exposed overnight; placing foodstuffs in sealed containers overnight or inside a cool room and regular cleaning and sanitation of all surfaces.
Destruction is just a simple term which means the same thing as “pest control” or “pest management” and refers to chemical and non-chemical methods that are commonly used to eradicate pests once they have moved into your building.
THE PRIMARY PRODUCTION IS KEY
Mon coup de gueule de Juillet 2016