An invasive fruit fly species in the Northern Cape has been successfully eradicated, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development said on Monday.
The species – oriental fruit fly or OFF – was detected last year between Douglas and Prieska in the Pixley ka Seme District Municipality as well as Groblershoop, Karos, Upington, Kakamas and Augrabies.
The department said in a statement on Monday "phytosanitary actions were implemented to control the movement of fruit from the areas under delimitation".
"Eradication, which included the application of protein bait sprays, deployment of male annihilation blocks and strict field sanitation within the quarantine areas, was successfully conducted," spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said in the statement.
The areas from Douglas to Prieska as well as between Groblershoop and Augrabies have been declared free from Bactrocera dorsalis (oriental fruit fly), the statement added.
The pest can result in food insecurity, job losses, market restrictions and high production and post-harvest costs, if not effectively controlled.
"The department has since established an exotic fruit fly surveillance programme and with many areas in the southern and western parts of the country still free from the oriental fruit fly, it is highly essential to ensure that pest-free areas are maintained," Ngcobo said.
The pest entered South Africa in 2010 and has established itself in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
The department has advised the community not to remove fruit from quarantine areas to non-quarantine areas without a removal permit, which is obtainable from the Directorate: Inspection Services in terms of the Control Measures of the Agricultural Pests Act 1983 (Act No. 36 of 1983).
Removal, according to the department, cannot be allowed if fruit fly management measures are not implemented and population levels are not reduced to an acceptable level.
"Fruit fly trapping buckets placed along roadsides in production areas and other public areas must not be removed.
"International travellers are advised to avoid illegal importation of agricultural commodities into South Africa because this may lead to the introduction of new pests that are expensive and difficult to manage," added Ngcobo.