The fruit fly is the number one pest that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji are vigilantly keeping a close watch on to ensure that it does not leave the country’s shores.
The presence of fruit flies in any of the commodities exported by Fiji to New Zealand could prove detrimental to this established export market and adversely affect bilateral quarantine agreements already in place.
Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Ritesh Dass said it was important that all necessary precaution was taken to prevent fruit fly presence in any export commodity at any given time.
“Four commodities being exported to New Zealand namely pawpaw, mangoes, breadfruit, and eggplant are host to fruit flies but treatment is available to ensure that the fruits are fruit fly free and it is absolutely
critical that fruit fly is not found in any of these four commodities that we export to New Zealand because the implications will be significant”.
Of the five fruit fly species in Fiji, two main ones could create the most damage economically.
“The Fijian fruit fly (Bactrocera passiflorae) and the Pacific fruit fly (Bactrocera xanthodes) once found on any of these four commodities sent to New Zealand, the repercussions will be severe”.
“That’s why we together with the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, we’re ensuring that these four commodities are thoroughly treated before leaving our shores because we understand the implications of just one larva
being found when it reaches New Zealand,” Mr. Dass said.
“We’re committed to upholding the Ministry’s Strategic Priority on establishing and improving commercial agriculture, a component of which encompasses the export market, tying into responsible production for continued economic growth, and that is why all bases must be covered when it comes to the issue of fruit flies in these export commodities,” he added.
The Fijian fruit fly had a very high risk of hosting to over 45 different fruits found in the country while the Pacific fruit fly preferred to host in commodities like breadfruit, jackfruit, and itaukei-known nut – vutu.
“So fruit flies are a major horticultural pest especially for those commodities that are exported, and the other reason is that it’s a quarantine pest so if any of it is found coming from our shores, all commodities that are potential fruit fly hosts, will be stopped,” he said.
Rotuma has two species (Bactrocera kirki and Bactrocera obscura), which were not present in any of the islands of Fiji, and as such, fruits from the former were prohibited from entering the latter.
The Ministry’s Fruit Fly Unit of the Crop Research Division continues to conduct awareness programs on the pest as well as its management during field visits and agriculture shows.
As part of the Ministry’s ongoing efforts to address the issue of fruit fly and plant pests and diseases, a Plant Protection Training and Plant Health Clinic is being conducted in Levuka, Ovalau that stresses this message to participating agriculture technical officers who are currently a part of the week-long training.