FAO employs innovative plant pest control solutions in Eastern Africa

FAO and partners launch a biological pest control program to manage the mango weevil in Burundi

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa and the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock have successfully released biological control agents for the Mango Mealybug in Burundi.

The release of biological control agents was carried out in two provinces of Burundi, in April and May, in two rounds, with the aim of effectively controlling the carnivore and reducing crop damage by the invasive plant pest. Biological pest control programs (the use of living organisms to suppress pest populations) used natural enemies of the mango mealybug: (Similar Gyranusoidea and Anagyrus mangicola). Measuring less than 1 mm in length, the tiny wasps feed exclusively on mango pods and pose no human, animal or environmental hazard.

The weevil has been observed in various parts of Burundi, with significant infestations in the provinces of Kirundo and Muyinga. Infestation is observed in various plants such as mango, citrus, banana, guava, ornamental, horticultural and shade plants. The second release was in Muyinga province on 06 and 7 May 2022 and in Kirundo province on 08 May 2022. The parasitoids were brought from Benin by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). FAO Burundi Country Office and members of the Burundi National Mango Mealybug Management Team coordinated the field release in the two provinces.

Meatballs are also found in Rwanda and Uganda in the East African Subregion. FAO has been working closely with IITA and the governments of Rwanda and Uganda to control this disease since its inception in 2019. Burundi is leading the regional effort, being the first country in the region to adopt this agro-ecological approach to restoring the balance of nature. presenting the natural enemies of the mango pulp.

Orlando Sosa, FAO Agriculture Officer, highlighted the importance of using effective pest control methods as Mango melybu poses a risk of spreading to other neighboring countries in the East African region. “The use of biological control agents has been quite successful in West Africa, where the pest has been reported in 11 countries, causing significant crop damage. That is why we have done a technology transfer from West Africa to East Africa to use the most effective pest management technique,” he added.

Sosa added that FAO will continue to support the affected countries through its technical cooperation project, which is aimed at improving the preparedness and response capacity of the three East African countries to the mango blight. FAO hopes to carry out the same activity of releasing these parasitoids in Rwanda and Uganda to reduce the invasion of the pest to other countries in the region and reduce the vulnerability of the region to food insecurity. “It is imperative that member states and farming communities realize that the biological control of the pest will give rapid results to radically reduce the pest population. Since the pest is exotic and has arrived in these countries without its natural enemies, the release of its natural enemies will help to restore the natural ecological balance. In this regard, control Chemicals will not help such control efforts because chemical spraying will prevent the parasitoids from doing their job effectively.’

The Director of Plant Protection in the Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Livestock of Burundi, Goreth Itangishaka, expressed his government’s satisfaction with the efforts made by FAO and IITA to release the natural enemies of the Mango Mealybug since the identification of this pest, which has had a huge impact. damages in the country. He stated that with the success of biological control agents, production can be increased to the level before the pest invasion.

Mango flesh, also known by the scientific name – Invasive Rastrococcus Williams (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae), is one of the pests that threatens small farmers in Africa, whose livelihood is highly dependent on mango production. The sap-sucking insect feeds on the leaves, flowers, fruits and young parts of the Mango stem. In heavy infestations, black layers called sooty mold cover the leaves. Severely attacked parts of a plant stop growing, resulting in lower productivity or death. In terms of yield: pests cause enormous damage, causing fruit losses of up to 90%, and citrus can significantly affect fruit yield losses of up to 53%.

Leave a Comment