Kenya’s mango industry is using locally developed biopesticides to deal with a fruit fly problem and aims to sell its produce to international markets. New biotechnology is to help overcome the problem of rot and waste of 60 per cent of mango crops by fruit flies.
Every year, thousands of tonnes of mangoes rot on orchard floors due to a very persistent fruit fly problem. Until now, the fruit fly problem has kept international fruit traders from importing mangos. The risk of spreading fruit flies to importer countries has now prompted some of the 60,000 mango farmers in Kenya are starting to reduce their reliance on chemicals and develop alternative ways to deal with fruit flies.
Real IPM, a small Kenyan biopesticide company, has developed a pioneering fruit fly control based on a common insect-killing fungus that occurs naturally in the soil – known as Metarhizium (Met) 69. The system of powder in traps can control an entire orchard; the fungus is also sprayed onto soil to kill pupae or in tree canopies to catch larger adults. As the results are very promising, farmers hope to reach the quality standards required for western export markets.
Biopesticides, such as the Met 69 system, are on the rise in Kenya, with companies such as Dudutech, Kenya Biologics and Farmtrack Consulting offering other environmentally-friendly solutions to various pests and diseases.
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