Integrated Pest Management (IPM) limits the use of harmful chemicals by employing non-chemical, eco-system based technologies that allow farmers to reduce pesticide application, limiting chemical residue in agricultural end market products. IPM products are popular among farmers as they have both economic and environmental benefits, reducing input costs while also making end products more attractive to health-conscious consumers. The IPM sector is nascent in Bangladesh, but agribusinesses are beginning to develop commercial IPM products adapted for the Bangladeshi context. Despite the many benefits, agribusinesses have not been able to drive growth in IPM product sales as expected. This is due to a combination of ineffective marketing strategies and limited awareness of the proper usage of IPM products, reducing the first-hand benefits farmers are seeing.
Ispahani, a private sector partner of USAID’s Agricultural Value Chains (AVC) project, launched a line of innovative IPM products including pheromone traps. Collaborative meetings between Ispahani and AVC revealed that while Ispahani was keen to increase their sales of pheromone traps, they faced challenges in effectively promoting awareness and proper application of these new products. AVC supported Ispahani in redesigning their marketing strategy in two key ways. First, AVC partnered Ispahani with Asiatic, a highly experience marketing firm, that worked with Ispahani to design a targeted marketing strategy. To date, Ispahani had been focusing on large-scale marketing campaigns that were expensive and not reaching their intended customer base. Through Ispahani’s partnership with Asiatic, they redesigned their marketing strategy, first developing a target market profile to understand their desired customer base and then creating an awareness raising strategy
specific to these customers, reducing wasted costs on wider campaigning. Asiatic helped Ispahani launch smaller, seasonal and crop based targeted marketing and promotional campaigns/events. The partnership served as a test marketing case for both partners – allowing Ispahani to trial new marketing strategies and Asiatic to test entry into a new market and gain technical knowledge to better serve agribusinesses.
Second, AVC worked with Ispahani to develop marketing and promotional events that combined targeted promotional offers with embedded training. As one of the key issues in spreading the use of IPM products was that farmers were applying the products and technologies incorrectly and ineffectively, Ispahani began promoting the products through Farmer Learning Events with training and demonstration serving a core function of each event. Ispahani identified around 1,000 farmers who were interested in IPM products or already using them on a trial bases through their retail and dealer partners. These farmers were attracted to the Farmer Learning Events through coupons, special promotional packages, and bulk purchase discounts. Each Farmer Learning Event contained a live demonstration in a nearby field or orchard of how to use the given IPM product, followed by a training portion where the farmers were tested on their
knowledge of the demonstration or asked to replicate the demonstration. Farmers were encouraged to participate fully in the training as at each event three participants were selected to receive additional awards for best trainee. From July through December 2016, Ispahani held 45 Farmer Learning events, reaching over 2,600 total farmers, all of whom received training in proper IPM application.
Through these events, Ispahani increased overall sales of IPM products, including pheromone traps, bioderma and tricoderma by 36 percent, and ensured that farmers were using them correctly, maximizing long-term results as their initial successes are serving as further product endorsement. Farmers who have implemented the pheromone traps in their own fields report reductions in output loss from pest and disease issues as well as reduced input costs as they have been able to cut spraying from three times per week to only once a week, cutting costs by approximately BDT 2,000 per week. They are also seeing better results from the traps in controlling pests than they were when spraying more frequently. Farmers explained that pesticides were becoming less effective as over-spraying was making pests resistant to generic pesticides. Additionally, since many pests are more prevalent at night, day time spraying was not
effective. Now with pheromone traps, their fields are protected 24/7.
The commercialization of IPM technology for wide-spread use among Southern Delta farmers will have a significant impact on the incomes of farmers by reducing crop loss due to pest outbreaks, lowering input costs through spray application reduction, and increasing crop value/sale prices due to safer production practices. These benefits are coupled with the overall environmental benefits of reducing the application of harmful pesticides region-wide, reducing runoff and improving food safety. Md. Anwar Hossain, a vegetables farmer in Jessore, explained that in addition to the economic benefits, he has seen immediate personal health benefits. “Using chemical pesticides three times a week caused chronic health issues for me and I often suffered from severe headaches, nausea or vomiting after each spray. After switching to IPM products, I saw a significant reduction in these symptoms, improving my health and ability to work.” By linking AVC’s inclusive
growth goals of improving farmers’ health and livelihoods and reducing environmental impact with the strategic business goals of private sector partners like Ispahani, AVC has ensured that IPM sector growth will be sustainable beyond the life of project.