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Dept moves to contain spread of harmful pest

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With citrus and grapes being the main fruit produced in the affected area, these detections “posed a serious threat to production of these fruit crops

Oriental fruit fly

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) yesterday announced that it would be implementing “phytosanitary measures” to contain the spread of the oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis) in the Orange River area of the Province.

Several detections of specimens of the oriental fruit fly were reported to DAFF between February and April this year. These detections were reported between Groblershoop and Upington, including the areas of Grootdrink, Karos, Keimoes, Augrabies, as well as at Kakamas and areas alongside or close to the Orange River.

DAFF spokesperson, Ali Diteme, said yesterday that with citrus and grapes being the main fruit produced in the affected area, these detections “posed a serious threat to production of these fruit crops” as they are also preferred hosts of the oriental fruit fly.

“This pest can result in food insecurity, yield reduction, job losses, market restrictions, high production and post-harvest costs, if not effectively controlled. The DAFF, together with other affected role-players, is implementing phytosanitary measures to contain the spread of the pest in the affected area.

“The affected communities and role-players are requested to co-operate with officials of the DAFF and industry bodies, who will be on the ground placing fruit fly traps and/or male annihilation (MAT) blocks/protein bait stations to control the pest. This pest requires implementation of effective orchard/field sanitation and regulation/management of the movement of host material from quarantine (infested) areas to non-quarantine (non-infested) areas,” Diteme stated.

In terms of the phytosanitary measures, infested areas are quarantined in terms of the Agricultural Pests Act.

“The affected parties will be served with official orders to restrict movement of host materials from affected areas to non-affected areas, delimiting surveys, while actions to eradicate the pest will also be implemented.

“Members of the public are advised to not remove the fruit-fly trapping buckets placed along roadsides in production areas and other public areas.

“The presence of the trapping buckets is essential to the national exotic fruit fly surveillance programme.

“People in all provinces producing the host crops of this pest are advised to stay alert and practice the stipulated control measures. All traders and transporters of fruit and vegetables that are hosts of the oriental fruit fly must apply to the department for a removal permit if fruit from infested areas are removed or destined to be sold in the areas that are free from the oriental fruit fly.

“International travellers are advised to avoid illegal importation of agricultural commodities into South Africa, because this may lead to the introduction of new pests and diseases, which are expensive and difficult to manage,” Diteme concluded.