Fruit fly bait production facility launched in Kenya
Plant will produce icipe Fruitfly Mania™
A facility to commercially produce a protein bait known as Fruitfly Mania™, a product developed through research by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) for the control of fruit flies, has been launched in Kenya.
Fruit flies are devastating pests of fruits and vegetables, which are estimated to cause losses amounting to millions of dollars through direct damage to produce, and indirectly due to loss of market opportunities, as the presence of these pests leads to the rejection of horticultural products from Africa in export markets.
The Fruit Fly Protein Bait facility has been constructed through a public private sector partnership between icipe and Kenya Biologics Ltd, on the latter’s premises in Makuyu, Murang’a County.
“Protein is an important part of the diet of adult female fruit flies. Therefore, globally, specifically identified proteins are used in bait sprays laced with an appropriate toxicant, as way of killing female fruit flies in a manner that is not harmful to people, animals and the environment. Yet, although there is high demand for protein food baits in Kenya, currently there is no local producer of the products. This means that protein baits have to be imported and retailed at exorbitant prices, which makes them unaffordable to smallholder growers,” explains Dr Sunday Ekesi, Interim Director of Research and Partnerships and Head, African Fruit Fly Programme at icipe.
Fruitfly Mania™ will retail at 70% less the cost of other commercially available products. The Fruit Fly Protein Bait Facility has a production capacity of 2,000 litres per day, enough to meet the local demand of over 229,000 households whose livelihoods depend on mango production in Kenya. An additional 400,000 mango growers will benefit from Fruitfly Mania™, once the product is registered across East Africa (to include Uganda and Tanzania).He adds: “icipe research has shown that an extract from waste brewer’s yeast, an industrial by-product from East Africa Breweries Ltd, is capable of controlling fruit flies to levels comparable to commercially available protein baits in the Kenyan market. We have used this extract to develop Fruitfly Mania™, which has been tested in farmers’ fields across Africa and found to be effective, leading to its commercialization. Our goal now is to make Fruitfly Mania™ accessible to as many fruit growers as possible in the region.”
“Over the past 20 years, icipe and partners have conducted extensive research to address the fruit fly challenge in Africa. The Centre’s aim is to reduce yield losses and the huge expenditure incurred by growers to purchase synthetic pesticides. We also intend to contribute towards reducing the health and environmental risks associated with the use and misuse of such chemicals. icipe firmly believes that Fruitfly Mania™, alongside the Centre’s other fruity fly integrated pest management packages, presents strong possibilities for achieving these goals. This outcome will improve the health of people, animals and the environment, and also increase the global competitiveness of fruits from Africa. As a result, we will support the transformation of the lives of millions of people involved in the value chain, as is indeed our vision,” concludes Dr Segenet Kelemu, icipe Director General and Chief Executive Officer.
Notes for Editors
Technical and financial support for the Fruit Fly Protein Bait Facility has been provided by: the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and GIZ through the Innovation Transfer into Agriculture – Adaptation to Climate Change (ITAACC) project; Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development, Switzerland; The European Union; Elephant Vert; UK Aid from the UK government; the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC); the Swedish International Agency for Development Cooperation (Sida); the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the Government of Kenya.
icipe’s mission is to help alleviate poverty, ensure food security, and improve the overall health status of peoples of the tropics, by developing and extending management tools and strategies for harmful and useful arthropods, while preserving the natural resource base through research and capacity building.
Kenya Biologics Ltd’s mission is to provide green, safe, and cost-effective farm inputs that help to grow and protect the farmer’s crops in a responsible manner, thus actively supporting sustainable food production and improving the safety of food and drinking water in Africa.
Fruit flies, are estimated to cost the African continent USD2 billion every year. Females attack fruits by laying their eggs into them. The eggs then hatch into maggots that feed on the decaying flesh of the fruits. Infested fruits quickly become rotten and inedible, eventually dropping to the ground. Aside from directly damaging produce, many fruit fly species are considered quarantine pests, leading to the rejection of horticultural products from Africa in export markets. Smallholder farmers often do not have access to effective fruit fly control tools. They are therefore forced to rely on synthetic insecticides, which 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 these chemicals also places at risk the health of the growers, consumers, other beneficial insects such as bees, and the environment in general. Moreover, the European Union has introduced the maximum residue level (MRL) legislation for pesticides on imported fruits and vegetables, which further hampers the export of produce from Africa. icipe research has led to the development of a variety of integrated pest management (IPM) options for fruit flies. They include biopesticides derived from fungi; the use of male lures combined with killing agents, also known as the male annihilation technique; use of protein food bait with soft toxicants to kill female fruit flies; biological control of the pests using their natural enemies; cultural control through field sanitation; and ensuring proper postharvest treatment that meets quarantine requirements of export markets. We have collaborated with a range of partners to test these strategies in farmers’ fields and found them to be highly effective. For example, studies have shown that the icipe fruit fly integrated pest management (IPM) package reduce insecticide use by 46% and increase the income of growers by 40%. icipe’s goal now is to enable as many farmers as possible to access the management packages.