Fruit flies rob mango farmers of Sh30b yearly
Mango farmers lose Sh30 billion annually to the fruit fly pest with global markets giving the fruit a wide berth.
Major fruit markets such as the EU, US, Japan, China, New Zealand and Australia have enforced strict regulations to curb pest migration to their countries through exports.
Kenya is among other countries in the world blacklisted by the EU and other markets as a result of high levels of fruit fly infestation.
The government warns that more than 200 types of fruits and vegetables are prone to attack by the fruit fly classified as quarantine pests and thus can compromise the country’s food security.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service managing director Esther Kimani last week said that mango production is inhibited by fruit flies especially the Bactrocera dorsalis that migrated to Kenya from Asian countries in 2003.
“Every year, farmers incur losses to the tune of Sh30 billion due to fruit fly infestation. About 40 to 80 per cent of the yield is lost due to the pest,” she said.
“Migration of the fruit fly to Kenya led to numerous interceptions of mango consignments by the EU between 2010 and 2014.
As a result, Kenya imposed a temporary self-export ban to protect the market and institute acceptable pest management measures,” added Kimani.
“With the ban in effect, farmers are not able to access premium markets which puts them at risk when there is a glut,” said Betty Kibaara director in charge of food initiative at Rockefeller Foundation.