Darin Lickfeldt, Michel Villeneuve, Peter Nagy, Maciej Strek and Joseph Anampiu, Dow AgroSciences, Indianapolis, IN
Significant improvements are needed in order for smallholder growers in developing countries to gain more access to modern innovation such as herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, synthetic fertilizers and improved seed. Most notably, an improved distribution channel is needed where local distributors have: sufficient credit to maintain inventory; credit is granted to growers from time of product purchase through crop harvest; improved shipping, handling and storage; and repackaging bulk quantities down to appropriate package sizes for smallholder growers (small, affordable, properly labeled). Many regions of the world still lack a well trained distributor sales force, the members of which understand the agronomic benefits of using crop protection chemistry and the critically important human health and environmental safety practices needed to use these products properly. A fully-functioning and reputable distribution channel, once developed, would allow for effective three-way communication between growers, the distribution channel, and their technology providers/manufacturers, which would lead to even more customer-focused solutions. Communication and training is also critically important to assuring proper handling, storage, use, and disposal of products and packaging. Private investment into developing markets is discouraged when regions are being inundated with “counterfeit” products (a common brand name and trademark but unknown manufacturer) or generic products with altered labeling (i.e. trade name only with abbreviated use directions). In some cultures where there is still widespread corruption, such practices are becoming increasingly common. Dow AgroSciences has initiated several projects in Africa to address such challenges and opportunities. Recent examples of responsible care initiatives and product stewardship efforts in Kenya will be highlighted.