Finalist, The Killing Daisy by Vito Fusco
The pyrethrum is known as the ‘flower of death’ – a nickname that neatly describes this delicate daisy imbued with murderous power. The pyrethrum is cultivated mainly in the hills of Nakuru in Kenya and is the arch foe of the insect world. When insects encounter the substance they are stunned into paralysis and then die. Used for centuries as a natural insecticide, it was only in the mid-20th century that pyrethrum made an impact on the global pesticides market, earning an eminent position among natural insecticides. During the 1980s, the pyrethrum crisis began, instigated by the chemical synthesis of pyrethroids that led to the manufacturing of cheaper but non-organic products. Today, however, this special daisy is being grown once again on the clay hills of Nakuru at an altitude of over 1,500m. The Kenyan government has decided to liberalise the production of pyrethrum, opening it to private companies in an ambitious attempt to revive the sector and help local farmers meet the growing global demand for organic products. Once sown, the plant provides a yield approximately every 15 days, all year round.