Pest control goes green
The road ahead for the pest-control industry in the 21st century was the theme of a recent SAPCA (South African Pest Control Association) Pestbiz convention held in Cape Town. Better education and a more integrated approach were two of the solutions offered.
“We're all operating in a global industry and are moving from an era of chemical solutions to a preventative solution with minimal use of chemicals. People are using the word 'green' more and more and the pest-control industry is adjusting its practices to answer to the changing world trends,” said Rob Fryatt of Xenex Associates in the UK. This does not mean the elimination of chemicals as a whole but a more integrated approach combining preventive measures with the responsible use of chemicals.
He continued by saying that the Web is our face 24/7. Added to this, ethical and social issues are now the challenge. In the UK “green” is not a nice idea only, it is the focus of the European Society. “We've moved past organic as this is the demand for all foods. We work with 40% less chemicals than in 2003.”
The night shift
Retailer demands have forced the industry to adapt its service times to between midnight and 6am globally. Unfortunately, the perception still exists that a pest-control officer should not be seen on his clients' premises as this reflects badly with customers. Globally, and in South Africa, this stigma needs to be changed as it shows responsible health-and-safety precautions. “It is the role of the industry to make the consumer, public officials and legislators aware of the professionalism of the pest control officer (PCO). More focus needs to be placed on training and pest prevention rather than cure. This is one of our primary focuses,” said marketing manager of Rentokil, Pamela Mudley.
There was also a call for the Department of Agriculture and the South African Pest Control Industry to work more closely together. Dr Boitshoko Ntshabele from the Department of Agriculture commented in his presentation at the Pestbiz Convention that government needs the assistance of the industry's expertise in order to deal with national disasters more proactively.
The issue of unregistered PCOs is becoming a major concern in SA - especially amongst farmers and agriculture in general. Dr Gerhard Verdoorn of AVCASA commented that especially with farmers, their biggest need is to get rid of a pest at the lowest cost - without wanting too much info or consideration for the safety, health or environmental impact. This opens the window to unregistered PCOs and the use of unregistered products. “I've come across many bogus guarantees and malpractices accepted by customers due to ignorance or a lack of education. Unethical pest control is a real issue in SA although people want honesty, a fair deal and documentation,” said Verdoorn.
Verdoorn further mentioned the industry and government needs to take cognisance of the need for institutions such as SAPCA and that pest-control operators should be members of an industry association that can implement self-administration and self-regulation of the pest control industry.
Over the past 10 years, the request for information has increased exponentially. Climate change also adds to the problem, or the perceived problem, of pests in SA and globally. “Pests like termites and bed bugs cannot be controlled by a home or office owner. Further to this, some people perceived any gogga as a pest - only a registered PCO can truly identify real pests,” said Verdoorn. The challenge for SA is education. “People don't realise that, technically, anything can be dangerous to human health - with regards to chemicals. This includes chemicals such as bleach and all-purpose cleaners. More focus should be placed on the person using the chemicals and the use of these chemicals, as it is often not the chemical that harms humans or the environment but rather the incorrect use thereof,” concluded Verdoorn.