Plant Protection Officer, Ryan Anselm told GIS news on Monday that Dominican farmers have been affected by Fruit Flies for over thirty years.
He also said that the pests have caused decreases in exportable fruit.
“Farmers have been experiencing significant decreases in fruit production so the strategy is to maintain the fruit sector for both the local and the export market. Fruit Flies and Mango Seed Weevils have negatively impacted our ability to export fruits. [Our] strategy is to maintain the levels of fruit export by managing the Fruit Fly population.”
Alies Van Saeurs–Muller is Head of the Carambola Fruit Fly Programme in Suriname.
She is part of a two-member delegation that will be visiting farms, meeting with Extension Officers and the Plant Protection and Quarantine Unit this week.
“The message we’re bringing has to do with recognising Fruit Flies and [educating persons on] what they could do to manage the Fruit Fly problem. There are quite a number of methods that persons could apply in the field, not only the destruction of Fruit Flies by destroying affected fruit but also biological control, trapping, bait spraying etc.”
She explained to GIS news that the management of Fruit Flies is not a difficult undertaking.
She said, “Everybody can do it...Everybody who has fruit trees in their own homes and finds larvae in the fruit can destroy them. If the larvae are left on the ground, they will penetrate the soils and re-emerge as flies and would infest fruits in your garden again or somebody else’s garden. If you destroy those fruits that are infested, you are already doing a lot in the management of Fruit Flies.”
Other Caribbean islands have shared similar challenges with Fruit Flies.
Paul Graham is Pest Management Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture in Grenada.
"From 1985, Grenada was declared free of fruit flies- that is fruit flies of quarantine significance- but in 2002 we had the introduction of the West Indian Fruit Fly- which you have here. The difference is that we have it in plums and sometimes guavas but here you have it on mangoes. It’s the same fruit fly but with different behaviour,” he said.
Graham told GIS news Monday that his Government has made progress in its attempts to manage the presence of Fruit Flies.
Based on his experience, he intends to make recommendations to Dominica’s farmers and agricultural officials on methods of managing the Fruit Fly population.
“We would want Dominica to use a more integrated approach especially because farmers are complaining of the affected fruit more often.”
Graham also said that farmers can play a major role in lessening the number of Fruit Fly infestations.
“We also want to send a message that there is a lot that farmers could do including cultural practices like picking and bagging affected fruit and destroying them. [Even] bagging the fruit for a few days is sufficient to break the life cycle. The cycle begins with the adult females laying eggs in fruits, then the fruit drops to the ground, the larvae penetrates the soil and then emerge as flies. If farmers destroy the affected fruit then that would mean fewer Fruit Flies in the next season and fewer flies mean fewer infestations.”