Nairobi – The media launch of the Komesha Fruit fly campaign in Mango has been launched in Nairobi, with stakeholders in the mango sub sector urged to ensure that the fruit meets the requirements for export to uplift the standards of living of mango farmers.
The launch, attended by Makueni Governor Prof. Kivutha Kibwana, KEPHIS MD Dr Esther Kimani, Rockefeller Foundation, Technoserve, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), mango traders, researchers, innovators, development partners, government departments and private sector actors/investors have been working together to create Pest Free Areas(PFAs) and systematic approaches to mitigating against the notorious fruit fly pest.
In 2004, Kenya self banned the export of mangoes to the European Union(EU)so as to come up with strategies to ensure that mangoes are fruit fly free; the fruit fly is a quarantine pest in the EU.
Mango is the second most important fruit in Kenya, after banana. A PFA is defined as a geographical area where a specific pest does not occur or as been completely eradicated and can be demonstrated by scientific evidence and in which, where appropriate, this condition is being officially maintained. A PFA is created by uniformly applied mandatory pest control measures over an extended geographical area.
The establishment and maintenance of a PFA implies that no other phytosanitary (or plant health) measures specific for the target pests are required for host commodities within the PFA. This means mango fruits originating from a PFA site shall be accepted in the EU and other premium markets.
Other measures put in place to mitigate against the fruit fly include certification of mango farms and produce, capacity building of stakeholders in the mango value chain; development of modern mango collection centres in every ward; establishment of at least one modern pack house fitted with hot water treatment equipment; and creation of a modern open air market facility for local marketing of mangoes and other fresh produce.
Kenya is the 10th largest mango producer in the world, with an annual production volume of 920 thousand metric tonnes in 2017; domestic mango production has increased by 13% p.a. from 2000-17. Increase in both domestic consumption and international demand has driven much of the fast growth in the Kenyan mango.
Governor Kibwana urged the participants to work together with Makueni county to ensure that the country meets the requirements for export. “Makueni is the largest producer of mangoes in Kenya and if we all work together, our farmers will be able to export and be able to earn from this fruit, he concluded.