There is nothing worse than being harassed by a clump of fruit flies while biting into a juicy, ripe mango. And it is to have the flies from the fruits to the mango first. Nutritious fruits worth more than US $3 million are destroyed, by pesky little flies, every year in Senegal alone. This makes the fruit more costly for consumers and harms producers who are at risk of losing valuable export markets.
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“If you can’t sell more than half of your crop, you have to charge more to recover your production costs. But the market is very competitive. Fruit flies can bring West African farmers down the world market for Mango, explains Yacouba Diallo, business development specialist, with knowledge of mangoes in West Africa.
Fruit flies have existed for a long time but a new, more dangerous variant, detected for the first time in East Africa in 2003, has spread to West Africa. Without control, these new flies can destroy more than three-quarters of the fruit crops such as mangoes. Chemical spraying is not effective for these insects in West Africa because of the wide spectrum of their host plants in the same environment and also when they pass from Caterpillar to fly, they remain dormant for long Dry periods, sheltered from spraying in their cocoons, a sort of air-raid shelter.
This is very bad news for farmers who want to export mangoes to Europe. Even a hint of fruit flies on a single mango causes the destruction of the entire expedition. This is part of the strict phytosanitary procedures designed to prevent the spread of fruit flies on the mainland.
The @CORAF_WECARD is attacking the fruit #mouches to save millions of #mangues losses. Https://t.co/Ce1njSgxaV @ecowas_agric pic.twitter.com/4Db7Yz9VX5
— CORAF/WECARD (@CORAF_WECARD) 16 October 2017
The CORAF, with funding from the European Union, the French development agency, UEMOA and ECOWAS, is looking for a series of complementary technologies which, used in harmony, can reduce the impact of destructive flies.
The global technique is called Integrated pest management and combines cultural practices such as the burial of infected fruits to kill maggots with botanical insecticides, insect traps and natural enemies such as Parasitoids, weaver ants that can help manage unwanted pests. But a recipe will not work for all parts of the region. Dry areas may need a combination while wetter and tropical areas, another. This is what the new research has decided to determine, so that small fruit producers can use the most effective combinations of management practices depending on their situation.
“The results of our research applied in farmers ‘ fields will not only be good for farmers, but they will also be good for consumers, good for children’s nutrition, good for sellers on the market and good for National export markets, according to Dr. Mame Farma Cissé Ndiaye, project coordinator.
The current project will continue until 2019.