Green Science, Technology and Innovation from the South: an interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania

01 January 2023 → 31 December 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Area studies
    • Ecological anthropology
    • Medical anthropology
organic farming green futures toxicity Africa Quantitative Field research Contemporary bio-industry African culture Anthropology Anthropocene
Project description

This project proposes an interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Pyrethrum is a pesticide component derived from the chrysanthemum plant species. The yellow heart of the so-called ‘killer daisy’ contains a natural toxin called pyrethrin that is used to produce organic pesticides and insecticides. The premise of this project is that an ethnographic exploration of the pyrethrum revival programs in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania can provide uncharted knowledge about adequate responses from the Global South to the global environmental crisis. This knowledge is crucial to develop a better understanding of African technical and social ingenuity in the wake of the Anthropocene, an era defined as dominated by humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. The research question guiding this project is: what kind of ideologies, expertise and technologies emerge in the Global South as responses to global environmental challenges? The project is a unique collaboration between KU Leuven, UGent and Egerton University (Kenya). We will experiment with the method of eco-ethnography, by engaging citizens (farmers and others) in the process of data-collection and in the continuous evaluation of the research process. The project will result in two PhD dissertations, 8 scientific articles, one edited book volume, and various formal and informal interactions with local and international stakeholders.