This improvement is attributed to the implementation of The Fruit Fly surveillance programmes that began in Zimbabwe in July 2012 with the assistance of a project grant from COMESA.
The programme was meant to improve on the dwindling exports of horticultural products to the international markets hence affecting revenue collection for the country. The project received funds from the European Union under the COMESA Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM).
The funds assisted the Government of Zimbabwe as well as individual commercial farmers set up a fruit fly trapping network for early warning against fruit fly with particular focus on B. dorsalis. The pest causes extensive damage to fruits and vegetables resulting in restrictions to marketing in international markets like the European Union.
Zimbabwe is one of the COMESA States with a high-risk potential for different Fruit fly species as it produces wide host range of fruits. These include apples, avocado, citrus, banana, coffee, guava, mango, peach as well as vegetables such as cucurbits, bell peppers, eggplant and tomatoes.
In 2015, Zimbabwe’s horticultural exports amounted to $72.1 million, with its main buyers being the European Union taking up a combined bulk of $57.5 million worth of produce, with the Netherlands ($32.6 million), the United Kingdom ($13.5 million), Germany ($5.3 million), France ($3.2 million) and Poland ($2.9 million), according to trade promotion agency ZimTrade.
It is estimated that out of the 1.9 million tonnes of mangoes produced annually in Africa, 30-35% (up to 760 000 tonnes) are destroyed by fruit flies. The estimated cost of fruit fly eradication programmes is on average US$12 million, with large programmes costing over US$100 million. Additionally, indirect costs are met through quarantine restrictions imposed on the trade of host fruit and vegetables from affected countries.
COMESA has put in place policies, systems, regulations and procedures which are harmonized across the region to create a conducive, transparent and facilitative environment for conducting regional agricultural trade with forward and backward linkages across the region from the farmer to the market.
Four major commercial citrus estates producers have now been declared Fruit Fly Free Zones. These are Clare Mount Orchard in Nyanga District, Churchill Rollex Farm in Marondera, Nottingham Estates and Bishopstone Estate, in Beitbridge.
Following the successful intervention by COMESA the programmes in addressing the Fruit Fly menace, similar initiatives will be extended to other parts of the country to ensure a 100 percent management of the pest.