FAO, MWAF sign agreement for management of fruit fly problem

WINDHOEK: The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) and FAO signed a US dollars 204 000 (about N.dollars 2 million) project last week for the management of an Asian Fruit Fly problem.

Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO) Representative to Namibia, Babagana Ahmadu and the Permanent Secretary in the MAWF, Joseph Iita inked the deal.

Project documents made available to Nampa on Thursday indicate that Namibia’s growing and thriving horticulture export market is currently being threatened by an exotic Tephritid fruit fly pest. Commonly called the African Fruit Fly or African Invader Fly, it has now been detected here, and its presence has resulted in the suspension of fruit and vegetable exports to neighbouring South Africa.

The documents said due to the economic implications of Bactrocera invaders (Asian African Fly) to Namibia as well as other Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, the Namibian government has embarked on an aggressive monitoring, delimitation and integrated control programme in an attempt to limit the effects of the pest.

“The ultimate goal of the government’s mitigation strategies is eradication, but a lack of resources is hampering progress,” it stated.

Upon discovery of the fly, South Africa banned the importing of certain agricultural products, including watermelons, butternuts, mangoes and tomatoes originating from the northern parts of this country.

The venture will complement a regional project, which also involves the National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs) of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, focusing on the more regional aspects of fruit fly management.

In the proposed project, financial and technical support from FAO is sought in order to determine the current status, distribution and host range of the fly within Namibia, with special attention to the common border area with Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe; create national awareness of the impact of the invasive pest; implement a sustainable, integrated fruit fly management strategy; and build capacity within Namibia’s NPPO for managing fruit flies.

According to the document, the overall impact of the project will be an improvement in the livelihoods of the country’s most vulnerable groups through enhanced food security and the broadening of household income-generation.

All results and lessons learned from the project will be shared within the SADC Plant Protection Technical Committee (SPPTC) – composed of heads of plant protection organisation member states – thereby ensuring that the application of the control/management measures is trans-boundary.

The participatory approach in the implementation of the project activities, as well as the linkage of the project to private sector and farmer organisations during the execution of the activities will also be maintained, and hence constitute a central pillar in the sustainability of the outcomes and key activities of the project.

It commenced on 07 February, and ends on 31 December 2015.