Oct. 31, 2019
The need to manage pests in an economically viable, socially acceptable, and environmentally safe manner is increasing and forms the basis of Integrated Pest Management (IPM). One available technology in IPM programs is the use of pheromones. These disrupt the mating cycle of insects and prevent damage by controlling pest population whilst preserving biodiversity.
Provivi, headquartered in Santa Monica, California, is a groundbreaking science-based company developing and manufacturing insect pheromone products. Provivi’s technology has made pheromones affordable for farmers to use in key grain crops. Adopting their methods would benefit the life of the farmers by securing their yields and incomes, and provide a safer food production for consumers and the environment. AgroPages recently interviewed Provivi’s Co-founder and CEO Pedro Coelho to understand, how Provivi is working to disseminate this new technology.
Q: Could you please tell us the milestones in the development of Provivi?
We started the company focused on solving two key issues that have historically limited the adoption of pheromones to high value specialty crops: (i) their high cost of goods and (ii) limited delivery options for broad acre crops. We assembled a world-class team of scientists, industry professionals and entrepreneurs to systematically address these two issues, and therefore enable Provivi to bring the proven solutions of pheromones to the grain crops of corn, rice and soy, which are the biggest markets in agriculture.
Q: Compared to chemical insecticides, what are the advantages of using insect pheromones developed by Provivi?
Pheromone-based mating disruption is a unique mode of action that is at the same time non-toxic, species specific, and preventive. So instead of letting the pest population build to a critical threshold level where insecticides have to be applied, pheromones prevent the proliferation of the pest therefore substantially reducing the use of insecticides. Pheromones are also much less likely to be overcome by resistance, which is a key issue nowadays for both chemical insecticides and GM traits.
Q: How do you or your company promote insect pheromone products for your business?
Provivi’s pheromone solutions are affordable and bring superior value to farmers by protecting yields and reducing need for insecticide inputs. By adopting both novel and traditional marketing approaches, these key benefits, are driving the adoption of our solutions.
Q: Fall armyworm, originally from America, has been widely invading East Asia since early 2019, and causing severe crop damage. But there can be good news to farmers that Provivi announces the successful production of the fall armyworm pheromone at ton scale. How is the product efficacy on such pest?
The FAO has recently declared the fall armyworm to be the most important pest of corn given the breadth of its geographical scope and the severity of its damage. It’s now the main concern of farmers from Mexico to Argentina, from Egypt to South Africa and from India to China. It’s a notoriously difficult pest to control. It can feed on corn at all stages in the crop cycle and it quickly develops resistance to insecticides. We have been conducting trials on this pest since 2016 and have seen the ability of mating disruption to reduce farmer dependency on insecticides while providing a superior, season-long control that is able to better preserve crop yields.
Q: Do you think it’s better to control fall armyworm with combination of chemical & biological treatments than use biopesticides only?
Yes, we see mating disruption as an enabling foundation for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Mating disruption being a preventative tool can be followed by adequate monitoring of pest populations to guide the farmer on the supplemental use of other crop protection tools as needed.
Q: Where are the main market for the Provivi’s products? Is Provivi planning for new target markets?
The focus of the company has been to take pheromones to grain crops, but we also see interesting opportunities in the established and growing markets of high value permanent crops.