Fruit flies are commonly known to be sponges for bacteria and disease. As a safety precaution, The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has embarked on a coordinated project to establish and maintain fruit production areas free or under low prevalence of this pest in Southern Africa. The project will run for three consecutive years and targets the Oriental (Bactrocera dorsalis), the Mediterranean (Ceratitis capitate) and the melon fruit fly (Zeugodacus cucurbitae).
One of the objectives of the project is to develop a regionally harmonised framework for the development and implementation of recognized pest-free areas (PFA) and areas of low pest prevalence (ALPP) for regulated pests of commercial fruit commodities in Southern Africa (South Africa and Mozambique).
The project follows the directives of relevant international standards for phytosanitary measures (ISPMs) as approved by the International Plant Protection Convention. It’s funded by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Standards and Trade Development Facility, which supports countries in building capacity to implement international sanitary and phytosanitary standards, guidelines and recommendations.
“The ARC has been appointed co-ordinator of this significant project because of its capacity build over 100 years as well as strong relations with other research partners globally,” explained Dr Tertia Grove, a senior researcher at the tropical and subtropical crops division.
The F3 Fruit Fly project is a collaboration between various research institutions and government departments. Other partners involved 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).
Other objectives of this project include the establishment of PFA areas in South Africa and Mozambique for target fruit fly species, scientific evidence for low levels of specified fruit fly prevalence for target fruit fly pests, operational database platform for determination of fruit fly status in different regions in South Africa and Mozambique.
“Through various research and development programmes over the years, the ARC 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,” said ARC CEO, Dr Shadrack Moephuli.