The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its disastrous after-effects on people’s lives and businesses is still being studied. One of the most adversely afflicted sectors globally is the F&B industry. Even if we were to shift our focus from the millions of jobs lost in the hospitality sector worldwide, it would be impossible to deny that the deep chinks in the global food supply chain have been laid bare.
Scientific implementation of integrated pest management systems is one of the keys to reviving the average consumer’s trust in brick-and-mortar stores. In a matter of a few months, there was a whopping 140% increase in online food and grocery deliveries across Europe.
The APAC markets, which rely heavily on established shipping routes for food deliveries, witnessed a plunge in demand as local food supplies instead of heading out to the malls and supermarkets. Packaged food delivered at doorsteps was in and still continues to be the new normal in many countries as worries of a second wave of infections arise.
The result? Singapore, an island city-state with just over 5.5 million residents, was witness to a generation of an extra 1,400-odd tons of plastic waste in just 8 weeks of lockdown. It is difficult to imagine the humongous amounts of food wasted in bigger countries with higher populations.
This is where another unexpected crisis arose: a rapid spurt of pests in urban and semi-urban areas. They laid siege to the empty streets and highways across the world, pillaging warehouses, destroying standing crops, causing diseases, including the most severe dengue outbreaks in recent history, besides damaging reputations and brands built over the years.
And unless we start introducing integrated pest management strategies in the most afflicted countries, we may soon be on the brink of another tragedy, a man-made one.
DEFINING INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT
The fundamentals of such programs date back to the 1950s, when chemical pesticides entered mainstream production. Before that, agricultural produce relied a lot on manual supervision, and any large-scale crop invasion & subsequent destruction would have a ripple effect across countries.
The current strategies of advanced integrated pest management were founded in the late-1950s by a motley group of plant pathologists, nematologists, entomologists, ecologists, and policymakers. Most modern IPM techniques resulted from their studies conducted at the University of California.
A simplified definition of a modern and well-planned integrated system of pest control would be to get to the primary cause of a pest problem, eliminate it and ensure it doesn’t recur.
The 4 pillars on which pest management and control rest are biological, chemical, mechanical, and cultural controls. These can be subdivided into restricting pest proliferation, restricting and destroying them in areas they inhabit and following up to ensure that there is no possibility of further infestation.
A CLOSER LOOK AT EACH STEP
A consensus exists among market experts that despite the post-pandemic ‘New Normal’ lifestyles we have been forced to adopt, integrated pest management techniques will remain the same.
On the contrary, the market will grow rapidly. Studies show that by 2027, the pest control product market will grow at a CAGR of more than 4.5%, beating all expectations. Leading this market boom will be the USA, Japan, China, Canada, Germany & several European nations besides India, Australia, and South Korea.
HERE IS A BREAKDOWN OF HOW POST-PANDEMIC APPROACHES TO IPM MAY LOOK LIKE
The fundamental idea of IPM is based on four basic principles. These are exclusion, restriction, destruction, and monitoring.
Exclusion of pests is to restrict pests from entering the premises. Sealing holes or gaps to stop the proactive insects from entering your premises, replacing the defects and building screens around the entryways, drains, and pipes can help a lot.
The pests are often drawn to different food storages as they get attracted to food or lighting. These buildings provide them with food, shelter, safety from predators, and every other thing you can think of. It becomes a comfortable living and breeding place for them too. This is how pest infestation spread so fast.
You can prevent this problem by keeping the containers sealed tight. Use the tight-fitting lids on the containers, and also regularly clean the bins. Cleaning any clutters or food spills can make your storage unattractive to pests.
Destructing pests that have already attacked the storage is essential to stop pest infestation too. There are many ways to do that in advanced integrated pest management.
Electric fly-killers and insect light traps (ILTs) can help prevent flies, especially the ones that spread diseases. Well-designed devices can even prevent contamination by containing fragments of insects within the unit itself.
There are manual solutions to prevent rodent infestation, the most common of which is the snap trap.
An efficient integrated system of pest control should consist of regular monitoring to detect any further attack or activity of pests in the building. Regular monitoring will also help you to prevent more minor problems from developing into massive headaches for businesses.
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