5 questions to Boecker® Public Health CEO
As the leading public health service provider in the Middle East, Boecker has long been a pioneer in the pest control industry, both across the region and further afield. In July, the firm participated in the International Conference on Urban Pests (ICUP) in Birmingham, an important meeting of minds for tackling urban pest control. HN sits down with Michel Bayoud, to hear what the event signifies for Lebanon and the MENA region as a whole
1. What can you tell us about the ICUP?
This is a highly important conference in the world of pest management and is very academic in that representatives from all the major research centers in our industry attend and present their findings, breakthroughs and innovations. The extremely high level of science and academia present at the conference is the reason Boecker chose to Diamond sponsor it. We were the first Middle Eastern company to do that. The conference brings together many professors from a variety of universities, ranging from Purdue in the US to others in Japan and Indonesia in the Far East, which have major pest control centers.
2. Where are we globally when it comes to pest control standards and where are we headed after this conference?
In the last 10 years, there have been many changes across Europe and the US, since both have created new bio directives for pesticides and put new regulations in place. These are aimed at combating the effects that pesticides could have on the environment and have led to the retraction of several non-compliant products. We’re proud to say that in over 25 years, none of these eliminated products were made by Boecker and the selection of products and systems that we use have proved to be among those falling into category A that were retained and considered safe and environmentally friendly.
This conference shifted the focus from the pesticide to the pest itself. For example, there were 13 sessions in this conference looking at the DNA composition of bed bugs. I strongly believe that the future of this industry lies in biological control,
rather than chemical control. It will be more about monitoring population control and controlling the reproduction cycle of insects than killing them. This research would likely reach the market in maybe 9-12 years, however, so we’re not talking about immediate results.
3. On which panels did you participate and what insight was forthcoming?
We focused on the panels that explored problems prevalent in the MENA region – mainly food-related pests and pests related to dwellings. Bed bugs are a big issue, as are cockroaches and ant control. The other panel that we were involved with was urban pest management.
Boecker works closely with municipalities. We collaborated with representatives from the municipality of Beirut, together with those from other Lebanese municipalities, and also some from the UAE, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Obtaining information about the prospects for urban pest management and what the municipalities can do to provide protection is important. We have our own academy, a standalone developmental and training entity, which we hope to enrich from this conference. We also want to share our professional experience with municipalities across the Middle East.
4. What about Dubai? What are its needs, given that it’s a relatively new city?
From a regulatory point of view, Dubai is the most advanced city in our region. Dubai municipality is doing wonderful work when it comes to public and environmental health. We work directly with the Dubai pest control section, which regulates and audits us. It even produces a chart of the top
companies in Dubai twice a year and I’m proud to say that over the last five years, Boecker has placed in the top three out of 186.
As far back as 2002, we were involved in writing aspects of the food safety laws with Dubai municipality. We also exchange expertise and organize workshops for students and schools, raising awareness about pests, highlighting the importance of hygiene and discussing good pests vs bad pests.
5. What projects does Boecker have planned for Lebanon and what is your target completion date?
We are rolling out something very important right now in Lebanon, which is our biosecurity line for disinfecting. Following the waste crisis in Lebanon and given the issues surrounding food safety, paying attention to the way we interact with the environment has taken on added importance. Today, Boecker is offering services and products to protect customers from germs; not those germs that can build up immunity, but others that are really harmful and can make people sick for anything up to two weeks.
This product will sanitize an environment by targeting the areas that are hard to reach such as the air-conditioning ducts. It enables us to control the mold in a basement or behind closets, which really increases the levels of hygiene. We can do this across all industries, even including hotels accommodating sick guests. In the past, operators would have had to use ozone to sanitize the area, meaning the room would need to remain closed for 24 hours. Today, we can have the room ready in 20 minutes. Even more importantly, we now have the testing tools to prove our results. We’re looking at a three-to-five-year return on this project.