• Fruit flies are classified as quarantine pests and Kenya was previously not able to meet the strict phytosanitary restrictions hence the ban.
• Campaign expected to last two years and is expected to increase the export market share for mangoes by 30 per cent in the first year.
The government is set to start a campaign to eradicate fruit flies and help mango farmers access the EU export market.
The Komesha Fruit Fly campaign will be launched on Wednesday in Makueni county to boost mango production and income as exports resume.
Fruit flies are pests that damage over 200 types of fruits, especially mangoes and vegetables.
An adult female fruit fly can lay 100 to 1,000 eggs on fruits during her life and once the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed within the fruit causing it to rot and fall off the tree.
In 2014, Kenya imposed a ban on mango export to the European Union market due to the fruit fly.
Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services managing director Dr Esther Kimani justified the ban to lucrative markets saying fruit flies are classified as quarantine pests and Kenya was previously not able to meet the strict phytosanitary restrictions.
The MD spoke on Friday during a media briefing on the fruit fly eradication campaign. She said the campaign will last two years and is expected to increase the export market share for mangoes by 30 per cent in the first year.
Kimani said the ban, which is expected to be lifted early next year, was effected following a high infestation of the fly that saw Kenyan consignments intercepted on several occasions.
“Damage by fruit flies has been reported to range between 40-80 per cent, resulting in increased cost of production, low-quality fruits and post-harvest losses. This is equivalent to a loss of up to Sh50 billion per year,” Kimani said.
According to the Department of Agriculture in Makueni, the county leads in mango production in Kenya with a total of 4.3 million mango trees grown by 109,465 farmers.
They produce approximately 280,239 tonnes per year valued at Sh4.7 billion.
“The Feed the Future Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Activity is supporting a comprehensive campaign to sensitise and train farmers on fruit fly control and create pest-free areas to address the fruit fly menace,” said Tom Carr from Feed the Future Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems Activity.
Edited by R.Wamochie