Tanzania: Orange expert calls for action against fruit fly

An expert has stated that steps must be taken if Tanzanian orange exports are to be safeguarded. The plight comes about as a result of the invasive fruit fly - Bactrocera invadens.

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 bring about the downfall of orange farmers in the country who are amongst growers who currently earn, collectively, $35 million from the exports of horticultural produce annually.

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

Seguni said that the fruit fly had caused an estimated loss of 32,000 tonnes of oranges per year since it was initially detected i 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.
Seguni 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, avocados,” he said.

Seguni advocated use of Integrated Pest Management, which seeks to control the pest without recourse to chemicals.

He also called on growers to collect up oranges that had fallen from the tree and bury them, a move which can reduce infestation by up to 50%.


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