Mzansi Agriculture Talk

Science

WTO funds fruit fly free project led by ARC

On Tuesday 1 September, the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) was appointed project coordinator of the fruit fly free production in Southern Africa.

The project is funded by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – Standards and Trade Development Facility, which supports countries implementing international sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

“Through various research and development programmes over the years, the Agricultural Research Council has been instrumental in improving South Africa’s agricultural productivity and global competitiveness while increasing the nation’s food security, reducing hunger and improving food and nutrition,” ARC CEO/President, Dr Shadrack Moephuli.

South Africa was the only country in the SADC region to amass the capacity to implement such as project coupled with a 100-year rich research history.

According to the ARC, the primary objective of the project is to develop a regionally harmonised framework for development and implementation of recognised Pest Free Areas (PFA) and Areas of Low Pest Prevalence (ALPP) for regulated fruit fly pests of commercial fruit commodities in southern Africa (South Africa and Mozambique). 

South Africa by Fruit Fly Africa terms was host to two species that had economic importance to the fruits industry; the Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) and the Natal fruit fly (C. rosa). Both species are international quarantine pests.

The economic impact of Fruit Fly is relatively unknown but for the Western Cape, the University of Pretoria research determined that crop losses and pest control costs resulting from fruit flies amounted to more than R20 million per year.

The South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) records that fruit fly occur in the following parts of Southern Africa namely; north of Limpopo (unpublished record), coastal region of KwaZulu-Natal, suburbs of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Tanzania and along the coast of Mozambique

“Drosophila melanogaster breeds successfully in bananas, Ensete giletti. Other host plants used as breeding site of D. melanogaster include mangos (Mangifera indica), pawpaw (Carica papaya) and apple guava (Psidium gaujava)” said Remember Baloyi and Pholoshi Maake from SANBI Biosystematics.

Fruit Flies live largely on plant material, rotten plants and fruit (adults) and unripe as well as other fruits that started to decay.

Project F3 Fruit Fly Free is a collaboration between various research institutions and government departments. Other partners in the project include the Departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and its Mozambican counterpart, Citrus Research International, Stellenbosch University, Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique) and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Belgium).

According to the ARC, the project will run for three consecutive years, targeting fruit fly pests such as Oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata and melon fruit fly, Zeugodacus cucurbitae.

Photo courtesy of ARC – TSC, Karen de Jager.

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