Archive for the ‘Emerging/invasive pests’ Category

Green Invasion: Destroying Livelihoods in Africa [Video]

To see videohttps://cabiinvasives.wordpress.com/category/ecosystem-services/

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From:  Lincoln Journal Star, Lincoln, NE, Sunday June7, 2015

Banana 2256Banana 1255

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27th April 2015

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) is expected to request about USD 200,000 from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to contain a new destructive pest which is rapidly spreading through the coastal areas of Tanzania around Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, attacking important food crops such as pawpaws and cassava as well as ornamental plants like hibiscus and frangipani.

The pest has been identified by scientists at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) as the pawpaw (commonly known as papaya) mealybug (Paracoccus marginatus), according to a press statement issued by the institute’s Tanzania office in Dar es Salaam recently.

In recent years, this highly invasive pest has also been spreading and causing damage in many Asian and West African countries.

With its origin in Mexico, it was first observed on the African continent in Ghana in 2010 from where it spread to Benin, Nigeria, Togo and Gabon.

The discovery of the mealybug in Tanzania means that the rest of East Africa will now likely be affected as well, the statement said.
Describing their nature, the statement said the pests are tiny, white and flat which sap the life out of the plants.

Their preferred hosts are pawpaws, but they also affect a wide range of crops including cassava, beans, coffee, pepper, melons, guavas, tomatoes, eggplants, cotton and jatropha.

If not controlled, it said, the pest may result in massive damage and loss of livelihoods for many farmers in the country.

The pawpaw mealybugs appear as white fluffy spots on the undersides of leaves, branches and fruit, and are often accompanied by an unsightly black, sticky substance coating these surfaces – a result of a sugary excretion by the pests which attracts mould.

The affected plants don’t grow properly, and farmers are unable to sell the often misshapen, discoloured and, in severe cases, completely shrivelled fruits.

According to IITA entomologist Dr James Legg, one of the scientists leading efforts to contain the pest after first noticing its damage at his home garden, the pawpaw mealybug is currently one of the most destructive and rapidly spreading invasive insect species.

“In Tanzania we have observed the pests along the coastal belt around Dar es Salaam and its environs, mostly on pawpaws, cassava and ornamental plants such as hibiscus and frangipani. But we need to carry out a survey throughout the country to determine the full extent of spread and the range of plants affected,” he said in recent remarks.

“Samples sent to IITA’s Biological Control Centre for Africa, located in Cotonou, Benin, have been positively identified as the pawpaw mealybug by the institute’s entomologist, Dr George Goergen,” Dr Legg said.

“Now that we know what we are dealing with, we need to act fast. The pest can easily spread throughout the East African region causing major damage and threatening the food security and incomes of tens of thousands of Tanzanian farmers,” he added.

The mealybugs are easily blown by the wind or transported by ants from one plant to another, and are transported longer distances by people who unknowingly carry infested plants or fruit from one part of the country to another, or from country to country.

Efforts are under way from IITA, the Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives ministry, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to mobilise funds to use biocontrol agents to contain the pest before it gets out of hand, the statement said.

This involves introducing natural enemies of the pest such as parasitoids – extremely tiny insects that lay their eggs inside the pawpaw mealybug. As the eggs hatch, tiny worm-like “larvae” emerge, which then eat the mealybug from the inside out.

According to Elibariki Nsami from the National Biological Control Programme of the Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives ministry, using biological control is the only effective way to manage the pest menace. Most pesticides are not effective since these mealybugs coat themselves with a protective wax, he said.

“The biocontrol mechanisms are safe as they are very specific and only attack the pawpaw mealybug. They are also cheap, cost-effective, and safe for the environment,” he added.

Experts say it will also be important to set up a surveillance system to track the spread of the pest in the country and the wider region and to create awareness among the farmers and larger public on how to control it.

IITA is one of the world’s leading research partners in finding solutions for hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

Its agricultural research for development (R4D) addresses the needs of the poor and vulnerable in the tropics.

It works with public and private sector partners to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce risk to producers and consumers and generate wealth from agriculture.

The institute’s R4D covers biotechnology and genetic improvement, natural resource management, plant production and plant health, and social science and agribusiness.

For the last 45 years, IITA has focused on key tropical food crops such as bananas and plantains, maize, cassava, soybeans, cowpeas, tree crops and yams.

It is determined to use research in improving food security, increasing the profitability of foods and other agricultural products, reducing risks to producers and consumers, and helping national entities expand agricultural growth.



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The 18th International Plant Protection Congress will be held in Berlin, Germany, August 24-27, 2015. In this congress, there will be a workshop on “Management of the South American Tomato Leafminer, Tuta absoluta” on August 25, 2015 starting at 7.30 pm and lasting three hours.
This workshop will review the biology, spread, damage, monitoring and the control tactics including regulatory, physical, cultural, chemical and biological methods. There will be a discussion on current Tuta absoluta projects worldwide and the possible initiation of national, regional and global projects for the management of T. absoluta and the current and potential role of donor agencies.

For information contact:

Prof. Rangaswamy Muniappan
IAPPS Coordinator
Region XIII: North America


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Fresh Plaza














Puerto Rico is readying control and eradication protocols after the first-ever detection on the island of the Mediterranean fruit fly, one of the world’s most destructive agricultural pests.

Hector Cordero, president of the Puerto Rico Farmers Association, told Efe that the initiative is a response to the appearance in the southwestern municipality of Cabo Rojo of two Mediterranean flies, long present in the nearby Dominican Republic.

The Puerto Rico government is receiving advice from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on control and eradication measures.

“The goal is to prevent the impact of pests such as the coffee rust or the banana black sigatoka that in the 1990s caused damage to the Puerto Rican agriculture,” Cordero said, adding that the lack of timely action in the face of the previous pests may have been a factor in their spread.

Francisco Aponte, Puerto Rico’s deputy agriculture secretary, said USDA officials detected the flies during an inspection last month.

The pest can damage tomato, mango, avocado, coffee, papaya and cantaloupe, all of which are cultivated in Puerto Rico, Aponte said.

Authorities in Puerto Rico have established contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to obtain approval for the use of the recommended pesticides.

Source: http://www.laht.com

Publication date: 4/13/2015






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“Nothing has changed” for Katherine melon grower after virus declared impossible to eradicate
NT Country Hour By Daniel Fitzgerald

A Katherine melon grower says “nothing has changed” for his farm after the Northern Territory Government declared a plant virus cannot be eradicated.

The Department of Primary Industry (DPI) recently stepped back from trying to eradicate Cucumber Green Mottle Mosaic Virus (CGMMV), opting instead for a management program.

The virus, which affects cucurbits like melons, pumpkins, zucchini, squash and cucumbers, was found to have spread from quarantine zones and is now confirmed on 21 properties across the Northern Territory.

Mitchell Curtis grew melons near Katherine until his farm was found to be infected with the virus and put under quarantine restrictions last year.

While the DPI is still putting together a formal plan for management, Mr Curtis said as far as he understands, the move to management will not change anything for his farm in the short term.

“Basically for us, nothing has changed,” he said.

“Most of it is structural at this stage and once they work that out, we might be able to plant crops, not cucurbits, but plant crops here in 12 months.

“Going from eradication, to management leaves a lot of questions to be answered, like whether we can send [cucurbits] down south from an area that’s been infected, what we have to do to stay clean if we do grow here; all those sorts of things to put certainty back into our orchard, so that we can actually grow melons again, all have to be answered.

“It may take us around 12 months to do that, to go and liaise with other states and work on the problem [of] whether or not we can grow in areas and stay clean with some protections in our growing process, or whether we can’t.”

The Territory’s Minister for Primary Industry, Willem Westra van Holthe, confirmed last week Northern Territory farmers growing cucurbits on land not infected with CGMMV are still able to sell their produce interstate with a Plant Health Certificate.


Mr Curtis said the declaration that CGMMV cannot be eradicated ensured the nature of the Northern Territory melon industry has changed irreversibly.

“I think there’s some big questions over Territory melons, I think that’s to do with people not understanding what this virus is,” he said.

“There are a lot of viruses in melons, this is another virus that we have to learn to manage.

“Once we’ve learnt how to do that and the fear has gone out of what this virus does and how it can affect our growing processes and all those things, I think the name of the melon industry in the Territory will be just as strong as it has been.”

Mr Curtis leased a plot of land from the Northern Territory Government to grow melons on this year, but to his “absolute horror” he found the land was already infected with CGMMV.

“It certainly indicated the problem we thought we had under control was not,” he said.

“It put some big question marks as to how it got there and what’s spreading it as [the land is] about 40 kilometres from the infected area on Fox Road and its about 30 kilometres from [the infected area at] Edith Farms.”

However Mr Curtis said he believes the virus can be safely managed and controlled.

“We’ve got to keep the thing in perspective so that we understand that small areas in the Northern Territory are infected, but there’s a lot of other areas that are quite safe to grow melons and deliver them with no virus,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure we don’t taint the whole Territory.”

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Fresh Plaza



Banana growers have started to breathe a sigh of relief, but are continuing to spend money on quarantine measures as news broke that the plants infected with Panama Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease have been killed, and no new infectious plants have been identified from samples taken. “We’ve spent $100,000 in the last three weeks putting in quarantine measures. We’re trying to quarantine our two properties we have,” said Tully banana grower Martin Buchanan, whose property is in the area around the infected farm. “Everybody should be made to do it. It should be mandatory.”

Biosecurity Queensland have had almost 70 people working on the response since the beginning of March with a further 20 people joining the effort on Monday. An Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) field officer and assistant on Saturday destroyed the 10 infected plants and 200 surrounding plants on behalf of the family that owns the infected farm. The plants are being injected and left onsite. “The plants are being injected with chemicals to reduce any risk of disease spread and they will be left onsite. “We will continue to monitor the farm and surrounding area for any further signs of the disease in the weeks and months ahead,” said Chief Biosecurity Officer Dr Jim Thompson.

A total of 16,000 plants on a 10-hectare section of the quarantined farm are expected to be destroyed to help prevent the spread of the Panama TR4 pathogen. The farm is 240 hectares with about 160 hectares planted with bananas. That will require sustained effort from banana growers on the Cassowary Coast and other North Queensland growing regions, many of whom have been attending meetings in the regions at Tully, Innisfail and Mareeba to receive updates on the situation, and find out what they should be doing to protect their farms.

Mr Buchanan said that the meetings have been ‘good at keeping people up to date’ however some growers were still unsure about correct procedures for some decontamination measures, for example the correct chemicals to use to wash down vehicles.

Both the ABGC and Biosecurity Queensland have made resources available to assist farmers to ensure they follow the ‘come clean, leave clean’ directive, and ABGC Chairman Doug Phillips offered his thanks to growers for their cooperation, and expressed cautious optimism at the news that there have been no other plants in the North Queensland growing regions that have tested positive for Panama TR4, from 150 samples sent for testing. The only ones to test positive were from the infected plants on the quarantined farm. “It’s very encouraging that there have been no detections of TR4 on other banana farms,” Mr Phillips said. “Surveillance and testing is continuing and we would ask growers to continue to report any plants that may appear to have TR4 symptoms.”

Publication date: 3/31/2015
Author: Kalianna Dean
Copyright: http://www.freshplaza.com


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