The Tuvalu Department of Agriculture/Biosecurity team preparing fruit fly traps and lures ahead of field deployment.
Armed with more than 500 traps, three types of pheromone lures and other supplies, the Pacific Community Land Resources Division Biosecurity SPS (Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards) and Plant Health teams have joined with the Tuvalu Department of Agriculture on a mission to eradicate the fruit fly pest from Niulakita Island in Tuvalu.
Fruit flies are a major fruiting vegetable crop pest not only because they damage production, but also impact market access. Niulakita Island is known for supplying breadfruit, pawpaw and other fruits and vegetables to Tuvalu’s main island, Funafuti. However, due to the fruit fly pest, the Tuvalu government has placed a ban on movement of vegetable produce from Niulakita.
With support from the EU funded Safe Agricultural Trade Facilitation through Economic Integration in the Pacific (SAFE Pacific) project, the SPC team and the Tuvalu Department of Agriculture/Biosecurity team will be on the island for two weeks to trap and monitor the fruit fly population densities, collect distribution data, conduct host survey and engage with the local community for awareness. This will help decide the right window of time to conduct mass trapping in order to suppress the population and lead into eradication.
SPC's Integrated Program Coordinator for Biosecurity SPS, Dr. Visoni Timote stated that this groundwork is extremely important in devising the right strategies to tackle Niulakita's fruit fly problem which has now existed for some time. He added that continuous but consistent efforts are necessary for which the SPC team is also training officers from Tuvalu Department of Agriculture/Biosecurity as eradication is a long term goal and the officers will continue to carry out the required work after the SPC team returns.