By Munyaradzi Makoni
International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) has promoted protein-based bait, fruit fly mania in Embu, Kilifi, Meru and Tharaka-Nithi Counties of Kenya, where fruit growers there have used it with positive benefits.
The protein food bait technology is one of the key components in the integrated pest management (IPM) packages specifically targeting female flies.
“Growers in Embu and Meru have reported that when they use the icipe fruit fly IPM package, fruit fly infestation of mango fruits is reduced by over 90 percent, insecticide use is reduced by 46 percent, amount of mango produce rejected by buyers is reduced by 55% and the income of growers is increased by 40 per cent,” Liz Nganga, icipe spokesperson said.
Fruit flies, are estimated to cost the African continent USD2 billion every year.
Previously, Mazoferm, a product of Corn Products Kenya, had been on the market and more than 15,000 growers were using the technology.
When the business strategy of Corn Products Kenya changed, Mazoferm was pulled out of the market in 2012.
“This created a gap and growers have been asking icipe for assistance for an alternative product to use,” said Nganga.
A new Fruitfly Protein Bait Facility in Makuyu, Muranga County, about 80 kilometres from Nairobi, Kenya was officially launched on 29 March.
Operated by Kenya Biologics, the facility will commercially produce Fruitfly Mania, a bait to enable growers to control fruit flies, the main pests of mangoes in Kenya.
“Our investment with Kenya Biologics was meant to fill this gap and is therefore strategically poised to benefit the growers who can now access a protein food bait product locally (Fruitfly Mania), at a cost 70 percent cheaper than imported products,” Nganga said.
Sunday Ekesi, Interim Director of Research and Partnerships and head, African Fruit Fly Programme at icipe said although there is high demand for protein food baits in Kenya, currently, there were no local producers of the products.
“This means that protein baits have to be imported and retailed at exorbitant prices, which makes them unaffordable to smallholder growers,” said Ekesi.
Fruitfly mania is based on icipe research, which has shown that an extract from brewer’s yeast, an industrial by-product from a local brewery, is capable of controlling fruit flies to levels comparable to commercial protein baits on the Kenyan market.
icipe is currently promoting the technology at Machakos, Makueni and Kitui.
The new facility has a production capacity of 2,000 litres per day, enough to meet the local demand of over 229,000 households whose livelihoods depend on mango production in Kenya.
About 400,000 mango growers would benefit from fruitfly mania, once the product is registered across East Africa to include Uganda and Tanzania.
Nganga said icipe recommends that growers use two or more fruit fly Integrated Pest Management packages to get greater benefit.
icipe’s fruit fly integrated pest management research over the past 20 years has been supported by donors from Germany, Switzerland, the European Union, UK, Sweden and Kenya.