False Codling Moth eats into finances

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Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Managing Director Dr Esther Kimani
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Surveillance and inspection the pest to be present in most rose production areas except the Mt. Kenya region

Listed among new pests, The False Coddling Moth is reportedly becoming a headache among rose exporters in Kenya. HortiNews Managing Editor Catherine Riungu spoke to the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Managing Director Dr Esther Kimani about the new challenge and filed the following report:

How serious is the spread of FCM in flowers

The False Codling Moth (FCM) is a pest with a wide range of hosts.  It is an important pest in citrus production. As a native pest which has been reported in tropical Africa, it is has not been shown to cause economic yield losses hence little is known about it.

In Kenya, FCM has been reported in roses and capsicum where it does not cause any significant yield losses hence not considered a serious pest concern by farmers. The pest has not been reported to cause any significant effect on the quality of roses and capsicum among other crops.

However, its quarantine status in Europe has affected trade with the European Union of the affected crops.

Surveillance by KEPHIS  has identified the pest in most rose production areas except the Mt. Kenya region. Farmers exporting roses to Europe have to put systems that ensure products are free from FCM.

Had this been anticipated when FCM was first reported? Has it been anticipated it would attack flowers?

The EU carries out a Pest Risk Assessment on products being exported in large quantities to the continent. The Union reviewed its regulations to include FCM as a quarantine pest in 2017 and therefore any plant products found with the pest are intercepted. All trading partners were notified that the new regulations would come into effect in January 2018.The notification included regulations for capsicums and roses.

How is this impacting on exports, to which markets and to what extent? Have we suffered interceptions as a result?

FCM has affected the market by increasing cost of production. Businesses have had to invest more  in pest management measures to ensure compliance. KEPHIS also has to carry out audits at farm level that previously was not necessary. We  also introduced stringent inspection protocols resulting in large volumes of products being rejected at the exit point. The inspection levels at the EU for roses has also increased and this will lead to delays in produce reaching the market. Non-compliant flowers are destroyed hence a loss to the exporter and the country.

Kenya has had rejections of exported roses due to infestation by FCM. Interceptions lead to loses in revenue as the products found with the pest are destroyed. A lot of interventions have been put in place to manage the pest therefore increasing the cost of production. Though some of the interventions are bearing fruits, a lot of efforts still need to be made since the tolerance to the pest in Europe is zero.

On the other hand, KEPHIS cost of operations has also increased as more official controls have been put in place to assure the quality of produce and compliance to the new requirement.

What measures does KEPHIS give growers to curb the outbreak, manage infestation if it occurs.

KEPHIS has continuously carried out trainings and created awareness on the identification of the FCM with special emphasis on scouts and quality control officers .Growers are encouraged to monitor and manage the pest using pheromone traps, application of appropriate pesticides, scouting and grading.

Going forward, what is the country position on this and fresh produce exports in general?

There is need to ensure we continue to train growers on market requirements for compliance. There is need for continuous development of skill in identification of quarantine pests.

KEPHIS continues to build capacity of inspectors and quality assurance officers at the growers’ premises since the pest is not easy to detect on roses.

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