We’ve been thinking about getting the EcoPesticides R&D team yellow bracelet with the letters “WWBD.” (What Would Bill Do?)
There’s a good reason for this. In early November, EcoPesticides submitted a Phase 2 grant proposal to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We’re seeking $1 million to advance our “green” biopesticide encapsulation technology, and hope the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation shares our vision to make a positive impact on the livelihoods of subsistence farmers and the food security of millions living in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Swarming locusts pose one of the greatest threats to food security and nutrition amongst the poorest citizens of the world. A single swarm can wipe out a season’s crops in hours. Controlling locusts with mass applications of chemical pesticides may protect crops in the short term, but is toxic to the environment the people, compromising future food security.
Our solution is a biologic-based pesticide that employs naturally occurring fungi to target specific pests—in this case, the desert locust—while doing no harm to any other living organism. Because of the harshness of the environment, our innovation encapsulates the biopesticide to protect it from UV radiation, thus maximizing its potency and effectiveness. Our technology will help subsistence farmers increase yields of staple grain grains like millet and maize, stabilize food sources and raise incomes. Anticipating demand from developing nations, we’ve formed strategic partnerships with a global consortium that stretches from Tunisia and nine East African nations to India to propel our technology to regions of the world most at risk for food insecurity.
The potential impact of our technology is powerful on so many levels. Funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would allow EcoPesticides to further optimize our formula, conduct large-scale field trials in Africa and India, and begin the process of making our green pesticides commercially available with global partners who understand the needs of small-sector farmers and the special requirements of these countries. Ultimately, we plan to leverage our encapsulation technology to other biopesticide and bioherbicide applications and bring it to other regions of the world where minimizing environmental impact and maximizing yield is a priority.
Which brings us back to the WWBD bracelet. Ours is truly a “greater good” technology and focusing its global potential keeps us motivated. We hope the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other potential partners join us in transforming how crops—and the environment—are protected.