ICIPE research comes to the rescue of banana, avocado and citrus farmers in Africa
Based on recent research by a consortium of organisations, banana, avocado and citrus farmers in Africa will now be able to export their produce to lucrative markets in Europe, the Middle East and South Africa
The studies were conducted by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), Kenya, in collaboration with the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya (FPEAK), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS); the South African Avocado Growers Association (SAAGA) and the country’s Citrus Research International (CRI), and Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique.
“Previously, banana, citrus and avocado from Africa were banned by several importing countries due to the presence of an invasive Asian fruit fly known as Bactrocera invadens. Our studies have now convinced countries like South Africa, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands to remove their quarantine restrictions for such produce from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Senegal etc,” explains icipe scientist, Dr Sunday Ekesi.
icipe and the collaborating organisations conducted the research on banana in Kenya and Mozambique, to assess the infestation of B. invadens on the Cavendish dwarf variety during different ripening stages.
Dr Ekesi notes that the findings, published in February 2013 in the Journal of Applied Entomology, showed mature green Cavendish dwarf banana to be a non-host stage of B. invadens, meaning that this particular variety should therefore not be subjected to quarantine restrictions.
However, the researchers recommend that banana bunches with precociously ripened fingers and other damages be carefully inspected before export, as such damage could facilitate attack by B. invadens.
Further, icipe in collaboration with CRI and SAAGA have developed a cold disinfestation treatment for B. invadens in citrus and avocado fruits. Dr Ekesi notes that by applying the protocols, published in 2011 and 2012 in the Journal of  Economic Entomology, growers in sub Saharan African countries infested by B. invadens will now able to export avocado and citrus to Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
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