Pests threaten orange exports: expert

A trader arranges oranges at Mawezi market, Mbeya
Tanzania’s orange exports face a ban, unless steps are taken to fight the invasive fruit fly—Bactrocera invadens—which wreaks havoc to the fruit farming in Muheza, Tanga, an expert has said

Speaking at the Orange Crop Value Chain Platform in Muheza town last week, the expert, Zuberi Seguni of  Mikocheni Agricultural Research Institute said countries found to have been invaded by the invasive fly are not allowed to export fruits.

This could spell doom for thousands of orange farmers in Muheza and other areas in the region.

Tanzania earns about US $35 million from exports of fruits and flowers annually, according to statistics from the Bank of Tanzania.

Bactrocera invadens, an alien invasive fruit fly species of Asian origin, was first detected in Tanzania and Kenya in 2003. The pest then rapidly spread across the region and is currently reported in at least 24 countries

Mr  Seguni told stakeholders at the platform that the estimated loss to orange production due to the invasive fly has been estimated at 32,000 tonnes yearly since it was detected in Tanzania in 2003.

Tanga region was estimated to have a total of 840,000 orange trees (or 8,400 hectares) in 2008 with more than 80 per cent being found in Muheza District.

The expert pointed out that production has been observed to have increased dramatically to reach 7,400 hectares which produce over 72,000 tonnes of oranges giving orange farmers an income of about Sh3 billion per year.

“This income is now being threatened because of destruction being done by the invasive fly which wreaks havoc to oranges and other fruits such as mangoes, guavas, water melons, avocadoes,” he said.

an orange tree
 Control of the fly, according to Mr Seguni is based on use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques which target at reducing losses brought about by the invasive fruit fly without affecting human health, animals and the environment.

“Control is aimed at reducing unnecessary use of industrial chemicals,” Mr Seguni said.

He informed orange crop stakeholders that picking oranges that have fallen down from the tree and lying under the tree and burying them can control the problem by 50 per cent, a step that calls for cleanliness of orange and fruit farms.

 Control also uses bait including Mazoferm and brown sugar which attracts the fly. Another known bait is Methyl eugenol (ME). In Muheza, control activities in Muheza are being conducted Zonal Agricultural and Livestock Research and Development Fund (ZARDEF) Northern Zone Project.

 The Orange Crop Value Chain Platform was established under the SIDO-FAO supported Rural, Small and Medium Enterprise Support Programme (MUVI) project being executed by Match Maker Associates Limited on behalf of the Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO)
Source: The Citizen,www.thecitizen.co.tz, reported by George Sembony

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