In Kenya, fruit flies often cause serious damage to mango crops. However, the flies can be controlled with an innovative combination of environmentally friendly measures (Integrated Pest Management IPM), which includes the removal of affected mangos, monitoring the fly population and using odour traps for targeted control. An important element of biological pest management is the use of bio-pesticides or natural predators such as parasitic wasps. These wasps lay their eggs on those of the mango pests. The wasp larvae eat the eggs or larvae of the fruit fly and so decimate the population. As part of this project, the wasps are being bred and released in the plantations. The farmers then learn how to establish the wasps in their own mango groves and live in harmony with them. IPM can keep the fruit-fly population in check and significantly increase the quality and quantity of the mango harvest.
In recent years, mango production has become increasingly important in Kenya and represents an important food source. In addition, demand for the fruit is high and mangos can provide small farmers with a valuable source of income However, there are strict quarantine regulations and export bans are imposed on fruit affected by fruit flies, so excluding farmers from a profitable market.
With conventional measures seemingly unable to stem the invasion of fruit flies, mango producers were in an impossible situation. Firstly, such measures are costly and secondly the fruit flies develop a resistance to them.
A total of 2,800 mango producers will benefit directly from an increase in yields and a higher quality crop, which in turn will improve incomes and increase the opportunities for export. This number includes 800 female mango farmers, i.e. 30% of the total. The beneficiaries also include 25 agricultural advisers, 37 employees of NARS, the National Agricultural Research System and a further 8 Quarantine Officers, who have all been trained in IPM (Integrated Pest Management) and so have improved their knowledge. A further 12,200 people will benefit from improved food security, including 5,700 people who work in the retail, processing and export sectors and will benefit indirectly from the creation of additional jobs.
- Document the damage caused by fruit flies in the production of mangoes at the new project locations in Kenya and Ethiopia
- Introduce and adapt existing and newly developed measures for the control of fruit flies (IPM) at the new locations
- Wide-spread release of natural predators of the fruit flies and monitor their spread Expand the IPM measures and strengthen the mango supply chain by ensuring good agricultural practices.
The project has bred 7,500 F. arisanus and 9,000 D. longicaudata parasitic wasps: This has allowed the release of sufficient beneficial insects in the project regions.
In addition, fruit-fly traps containing attractant have been placed in the fields. The traps are checked regularly and the number of flies caught is monitored.
In the project regions of West Embu and Machakos, 4 new locations have been established for training and demonstration purposes. They are all with easy reach of local farmers and can be used as venues for the Farmer Field Days (practical training in IPM techniques). In 2015, a total of 1,608 farmers were trained in IPM methods and provided with information material. In addition, 38 trainers from NARS (National Agricultural Research System) have been trained in IPM. They can now act as ToT (Trainer of Trainers) and spread the knowledge further. To support the expansion of IPM, a total of 1,608 starter packs including fly traps, 2 doses of attractant and information material were distributed to mango farmers at the beginning of the mango season in October. In 2015, GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) training was given to 20 people from four different farmer groups. In addition, these farmers were provided with information on the basics of marketing their fruit, focussing in particular on pricing, sales planning and general marketing.
The breeding and release of the beneficial insects requires intensive technical support and advice but once released, the insects multiply independently and require no additional care. The farmers merely have to ensure that the habitats used by the beneficial insects are not damaged by pesticides. In addition, a new facility for the production of attractants opened in March, ensuring that inexpensive, locally-produced attractants are available after the end of the project.
In addition, the project’s scientific management team is expanding its networks and forming partnerships with institutions with similar aims. This will guarantee the exchange of knowledge and experience.
Information on the project can also be found on the new website on the African fruit fly (www.icipe.org/research/plant-health/fruit-fly-ipm). The activities of the project have already been profiled on the TV programme "Shamba Shape Up" (www.shambashapeup.com). The average audience for this programme in East Africa is more than 10 million.