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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Outbreak of Asian Fruit Fly in Eastern Botswana

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Botswana is facing a serious shortage of fresh fruits and vegetables in the coming weeks following an outbreak of Asian Fruit Fly in Eastern regions of the country, an official at the country’s Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday.

Ministry spokesperson Geoffrey Pheko said that the ministry have this week quarantined farms and banned imports following the outbreak of the fly at Botalana, Fairfield, Seleka and AR5 farms in the Tuli Block area in Eastern Botswana.

He said restrictions had been put in place to prevent the fly from spreading. He also stated that, though the Ministry is aware of the need for local produce, controlling the pest is of primary importance.

“The farms have been put under quarantine with immediate effect and the ban would go on for an indefinite period until the fly has been successfully put under control,” he said.

Botswana currently imports 34,000 tonnes of fruits and vegetables to supplement the 41,000 tonnes produced locally. The national demand for fruits and vegetables is 75,000 tonnes.

Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Boikhutso Rabasha said measures were in place to prevent the fruit fly from invading other parts of the country and crossing the border to neighbouring nations.

The fly attacks tomatoes, citrus, cucumber, mango, cashew nuts, papaya, guava, green pepper and water melons; as well as squash, pumpkin, butternuts, bananas, avocado and several wild host plants and the wild monkey orange.

Rabasha said the main vector for fruit flies to spread is through movement of infested fruits, hence the quarantine measures.

Produce from affected farms will require a permit issued by the Plant Protection Division regardless of quantity.

Special permits will be required for importing fruit regardless of quantity; all plants and plant products will only be allowed in at approved ports of entry; and travellers into Botswana will face mandatory checks at border posts and airports such as Maun, Gaborone, Kasane and Francistown.

Sources: www.freshplaza.com and www.southerntimesafrica.com

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