Mango farmers at Somanya, capital of the Yilo Krobo District in the Eastern Region, are calling for government support in combatting fruit-flies on their farms.
Detected in Ghana from February 2005, the flies attack several commercially produced fruit and vegetables – with mango as one of the preferred hosts. Other host-crops include citrus, banana, papaya, watermelon, tomatoes, garden- eggs, Indian almond, and cashew.
Fudu Baba Nkyem, Farm Manager at Hydrotech Farms and Trading – a mango grower and livestock company – said without government’s support mango exports could be curtailed or even banned if the flies are found in fruit exported to the international market.
Ghana among other sub-Saharan countries has been bracketed as a fruit-fly endemic zone, making it very difficult for fruit like mango from the country to penetrate international markets including Europe, USA and South Africa.
Mango production is gradually becoming an alternative livelihood source for many in the country, but it appears the farmers are not getting value for money as they are losing the battle against fruit-flies on their farms.
In 2012, Ghana ranked 31st in terms of mango, mangosteen, and guava-producing countries worldwide while producing 0.2 percent of global production. India is the leader with about 40 percent share of the global market.
Mr. Nkyem called for either a mass-spraying activity or special chemicals or methods to combat the flies and stop them destroying their fruits.
“We want government to come in with a mass- spraying team or special chemical or method – not our insecticides or traps – that can control the flies. I can only catch a few flies with my traps, and that is even because we are in an association and our farm is certified,” he said.
He noted that several small farmers do not know much about the havoc the flies can cause and are uninterested in preventing them, which poses a threat to farms like his.
“The fruit-flies can condemn all your mangoes. When you are not careful they will destroy everything; the moment the mangoes start appearing you should set the traps. They should be set about two months before maturity so you can control them.
“It is a serious issue, so we want government to come in. We the farmers cannot control them. We can only prevent a few, sack or trap some. They are around in mangoes, pawpaw, tomatoes and all vegetables, even pepper.”
He said government can easily intervene through several measures,citing the example of how pawpaw farmers were trying to combat Mealybugs to no avail until government came in and introduced insects that ate all the Mealybugs.
“If government can work through this and control it, we will be very grateful.”
He said currently the only ways they are using to control the pest are protein baits and traps.“But we cannot be doing this all the time; we want government to come in and help us or else we cannot export the mangoes any longer,” he said.
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