Sterile Insect Technique opens new markets for Ecuadorian fruit

Ecuador is one of the largest producers of tropical fruit in the Western Hemisphere. That nation is adding non-traditional fruits to its export portfolio as a result of successfully fighting off the Mediterranean fruit fly with the help of nuclear techniques.

After receiving technical assistance from the IAEA, in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), to use – along with other methods –  the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to control the flies, farmers are now shipping golden berries, dragon fruit and tree tomatoes to markets in the United States, Latin America and the European Union.

“The completion of the project will directly contribute to improving the livelihood of fruit producers in Ecuador by reducing the damage caused by fruit flies and increasing production for external markets,” said Rodrigo Salas, Head of the Under-secretariat for Nuclear Control and Applications.

The Mediterranean fruit fly is one of the most destructive agricultural pests. Its larvae feed on the pulp of host fruits, making the fruit inedible. Ecuador has implemented a fruit fly pest control scheme based on an integrated pest management (IPM) programme including SIT, within the National Fruit Fly Management Project (NFFMP), which was supported by the IAEA and the FAO.

The IPM is an effective and environment‑friendly pest control approach for crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to effectively reduce pest damage, produce healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides. This approach enables an increase of fruit and vegetable quality and production and facilitates international trade. In Ecuador, SIT was incorporated into the IPM approach in 2018.

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