Currently 99.75% of agricultural products worldwide are obtained through the use of chemical inputs. In Benin for example, hundreds of village folk die each year due to the use of chemical pesticides. As a result of lack of resources and sensitization, farmers generally do not use any means of protection when applying chemical inputs. They are therefore directly exposed to the poison in these products. Consumers are also victims of the harmful effects of these products. Every day, they ingest the residue of these pesticides in the fruits and vegetables they consume. In an effort to address this, a Beninois entrepreneur has begun to manufacture organic fertilizer and pesticides. The aim of this initiative is to offer sustainable agriculture. The effectiveness of these organic inputs is already motivating various local and international partners.
Former agricultural consultant in Benin’s hill region, Gildas Zodome, as a result of his professional experience, obtained profound insight into the realities of the work of farmers in his region. He noted the increasing and even uncontrolled use of chemical pesticides on these farms and this led him to engage in his new activity of developing organic inputs.
In 2011 he established Bio Phyto, a company which trades in organic fertilizer and pesticides which it produces using a largely available local resource: the neem. This tree originally from India, belongs to the Meliaceae family. The seed of its fruits is the main source of the insecticidal component which is the azadirachtine. Oil extracted from the neem, known as the neem oil, is used against parasites and burning the dried leaves of the tree drives away mosquitoes.
Since 2011, Gildas’ business has grown and the demand for its products is increasing. The company has especially developed the organic pesticide « Top Bio », a soluble concentrate which contains natural active ingredients, giving it the qualities of an insecticide, insect repellent and fungicide for controlling insects and other pests. « Agro Bio » is the first fertilizer in the range of organic fertilizers provided by Bio Phyto. Comprising mainly of organic materials and elements such as nitrogen and phosphorus, Agro Bio is a fertilizer which is good for vegetables and makes the soil fertile for long periods. It also helps in preserving the harvest.
Bio Phyto’s policy is that of continuous research and development in order to make use of local aromatic and oil seed crops in the production of organic pesticides for sound agriculture. Besides, this research earned the company a prize during the 2013 edition of the Green Start Up Challenge of the International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE). As a result of this prize, the company is benefitting from technical and financial support from 2iE. Furthermore, Bio Phyto is being supported in its entrepreneurial drive by La Fabrique, a social business incubator based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Presently, La Fabrique and 2iE are specifically supporting Bio Phyto to certify the quality of its products as well as drive its change initiatives.
Bio Phyto is a business which is making a lot of impact both on the environmental and social front. The company is involved in fighting against depletion of nutrients in arable lands, stopping the destruction of biodiversity particularly those that help in crop growth (bees, other useful insects) through the use of chemical pesticides and making use of local resources. Bio Phyto is also keen on contributing to the employability of women and the youth in rural areas by creating associations for the collection of raw materials. Bio Phyto however, represents most importantly a health revolution for farmers who now use healthy and non hazardous inputs and for consumers who eat without running any risks.
For more information on Bio Phyto
Article written with the kind collaboration of Laure Prin, mentor at La Fabrique