The Kenyan horticulture sector is on high alert following the discovery of a new pest that threatens the nation’s fresh produce exports. A fruit fly commonly called the spotted-wing drosophila - Drosophila Suzukii- that is native to East and South-Asia, was first identified in Kenya in March 2019 in one of the farms in Longonot. The fly’s presence is very unfortunate, as it comes at a time when Kenya’s produce to Europe is facing stricter checks following the presence of some quarantined pests in some of the crops.
Benjamin Tito, head of the Horticulture Directorate: “The pest is of major concern to horticulture because it is considered a threat to the production of berries, cherries, grapes, and tomatoes and other fruits especially ripening soft ones. Its presence leads to loss of quality and poses major production and trade challenges of berries and other soft-skinned fruits, especially exports to countries where the pest is absent.”
The pest at Longonot Horticulture farm has also been detected in a few uncultivated fruits near the farm. The directorate says berries from the farm that were sold in a Nairobi supermarket have also been found to have the pest.
Businessdailyafrica.com reports how the EU tightened the rules on Kenya’s chili last year, following the presence of Codling Moth pests on the produce, which are quarantine insects in Europe. This has seen nearly all traders who used to export to the EU stop for fear of rejections. Following the restriction, growers opted for the Middle East market but it is not as lucrative as Europe, forcing traders to offload a lot of the produce locally.