– most of the farmers are now making losses of 30% or lower compared to 70% – 90% four years ago, icipe officials revealed.
MUREHWA, ZIMBABWE (CZ) – Mango production in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe, has more than doubled owing to a fruit flies eradication program, that has seen farmers now reaping up to 70% quality fruit compared to 20% in the past.
Many farmers were ignorant of the existence of fruit flies that were damaging their produce leading to unbearable losses.
During a field day for Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Mango at Madyamhuru Village, in Murehwa 90km from Harare, on the 16th of March 2023, fruit and vegetable farmers gave positive testimonies.
Most of the farmers are now making minimal losses of 30% or below compared to four years ago when losses were as huge as 70% – 90%.
Eufria Nyadome is a 35-year-old mother of four, residing in Mhondiwa village in Murehwa District.
Murehwa is one of the leading mango producing districts in Zimbabwe with an estimated mango tree count of 750 000, and for years Eufria treated mango selling business, like any other.
She got married more than two decades ago and immediately moved to stay with her husband and in-laws in Murehwa.
“I witnessed the quality of mangos declining and I used to wonder, the income my husband was realising was also going down over the years such that the entire family lost interest in the mango business,” Eufria said.
The same happened with Emily Chakunyuka a widow aged 53, from the same Mhondiwa village.
“I have an orchard with more than 90 mango trees but over the years my harvest was so poor, I used to throw away a lot of mangoes as they would rot at the ripening stage,” confessed Emily.
These two ladies revealed that their mango produce has improved owing to an intervention by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe).
A four-year IPM that started in 2019 and ended September 2022, targeted at least 9000 fruit and vegetable farmers in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe in a bid to eradicate fruit flies and boost yields and food security.
– icipe intervention
icipe was established in 1970 in response to the need for alternative and environmentally-friendly pest and vector management strategies.
The Kenyan based organisation is into research and develop methods that are effective, selective, non-polluting, non-resistance inducing and are affordable to the rural farmers.
In a bid to boost horticultural and agricultural yield, icipe empathises on pest control approaches that have non-detrimental effect to the environment hence the uptake was high in the four countries.
Icipe partnered with local implementing partners through funding from donors such as The International Development Research Centre (IDRC), The Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research (ACIAR) and The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).
Farmers were taught to fight the flies such as Ceratitis female from Africa and Bactrocella Invadens from Asia, using three key strategies although the male annihilation technology has been found to be very effective.
– key methods and success
During an End of Project Meeting Programme held in the capital Harare from the 14th to the 15th of March 2023, researchers revealed, three strategies out of six, were used thereby enhancing quality of mango production.
The male annihilation technology entails placing a powerful lure called mthyl eugenol in a trap to attract male fruit flies and they are killed by a small dose of insecticide in the lure.
Eventually females lay unfertilized eggs in the mango fruit and the hatching is prevented.
This lure can attract the invasive fruit fly Bactrocera dorsalis from a kilometer distance.
Some of the methods include baiting, biopesticides, post-harvest treatment, sanitisation and parasitoids
Most of these methods are meant to reduce spraying of insecticide that may end up killing what are known as ‘farmers friends’ as they control the eggs, mangots or even the adult insect pests (fruit fly).
To boost the use of these natural enemies or wasps, icipe has released the fruit fly parasitoid in various countries including in the Southern Africa to compliment other fruit fly management measures.
“There is a huge advantage of using the parasitoids as they are very specific and will not attack anything but fruit flies and when they multiply, they spread to other farms.
Their survival on the farms can be enhanced by reducing the number of synthetic pesticides used on farms,’ Dr Sunday Ekesi, Head of Capacity Building and Integrated Science said during the End Of Project Meeting in Harare.
– value addition
With improved mango harvest, farmers realised that drying of the fruits was more beneficial unlike selling the mangoes in their raw state.
“After drying my mangoes, I now realise at least US$ 150 per every 20-litre container compared to US$ 2,50 to US$ 3 of fresh mangoes,” Eufria Nyadome boasted.
Many mango farmers were also trained in drying techniques using drying nets, greenhouse or solar driers.
Kuziva Chatukuta of Chatukuta Dried Foods hinted there is a huge market for dried mangoes.
“The intervention by icipe will help most mango farmers in the region, to tap into the foreign dried fruit market which is vast.
However, the market is also very selective of which type of mangoes are on demand and from which region but the income is good,” he hinted.
Kuziva advised farmers to be worry of the type of driers they use as not all of them produce good and clean dried mangoes.
Value addition is what the government of Zimbabwe is preaching under the NDS1 and Vision 2030 with the aim of creating a middle-income economy.
Meanwhile Deputy Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Vangelis Haritatos assured farmers that the end of the icipe program does not mean end of the road.
“It is our duty as government to make sure we protect our farmers so that whatever they have learnt is protected and put to good use. We will also help them with ideas of how they could market their dried produce to create a win – win situation for every stakeholder in the sector,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the End of Project Meeting.