Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management

In Africa, horticulture offers one of the most important opportunities for income generation, employment creation, addressing food security needs, improving access to education and health care, and providing women with economic opportunities in rural economies.

However, Africa’s horticultural sector is significantly constrained by a variety of factors including insect pests that reduce yield directly by attacking crops, or indirectly by passing on viral diseases. Some of these insects are considered quarantine pests restrictions, resulting in the rejection of horticultural produce from Africa in export markets. Most fruit growers are smallholders who often lack access to effective pest and disease control tools, forcing them to rely on synthetic insecticides. Such products are often ineffective, as the pests eventually become resistant to them. Synthetic pesticides also eliminate natural enemies that could biologically control a percentage of the pests. The indiscriminate and frequent use of chemicals is detrimental to the health of the growers, consumers and the environment. The European Union has also introduced the maximum residue level (MRL) legislation for pesticides on imported fruits and vegetables, which further hampers the export of produce from Africa.

Among the key horticultural pests are fruit flies, which cause estimated annual losses amounting to 2 billions US dollars in Africa. Over the years, icipe in collaboration with partners from Africa, Asia, Europe and USA, has developed integrated pest management (IPM) packages for exotic and native fruit flies, including: baiting and male annihilation techniques; biological control with biopesticides and parasitoids; cultural control through field sanitation and minimal use of pesticide in localised bait stations of spot spray.

The icipe IPM packages are aimed towards reducing yield losses and the huge expenditure incurred by farmers to purchase pesticides. They are also intended to mitigate the health and environmental risks associated with the use (and misuse) of such chemicals. Overall, the IPM strategies should increase the market competitiveness of fruit from SSA and, as a result, elevate the income and livelihoods of people involved in the value chain.

The technologies have been disseminated widely, with tremendous success, across Africa, supported by a programme of training of trainers, establishment of IPM learning sites, demonstration of proven IPM technologies, organisation of field days and massive release of parasitoids. Although still in it’s early stages of deployment by end of  2014, an estimated 21,000 people in seven African countries were applying icipe’s fruit fly IPM strategies. Adoption of the packages is estimated at more than 70 percent among smallholder mango growers.

In 2014, socio-economic assessment studies were conducted to determine the impact of the icipe IPM packages on mango (Mangifera indica) production in Embu and Meru counties, Kenya. In Embu County, the study, which involved 257 households, revealed an average reduction of 54.5% in the amount of mango produce being rejected by buyers. It also showed a 46.4% decrease on insecticide expenditure and that the net income that farmers were obtaining from mango production had increased by 22.4%.

The evaluation study in Meru assessed the impact of different combinations of the fruit fly IPM packages on a randomly selected sample of 1200 mango producers. The study estimated mango losses due to fruit fly infestations to have gone down by 17%, and observed a reduction of about 45% in the expenditure on pesticides. On the whole, the net income of farmers using the icipe IPM packages in mango production had increased by about 48%, which was significantly higher than that of other growers.

The study also illuminated the benefits of using different combinations of the IPM packages, and proposed the ones that could ultimately provide the highest impact, and which could therefore be up-scaled