Fruit and vegetable vendors in Francistown and surrounding areas face a bleak future after some citrus fruit farms in the Tuli Block have been invaded by the destructive Asian Fruit fly.
The disaster ravaging pest which is suspected to be from neighbouring South Africa, is said to have spread into the North East and some parts of the Central District.
“We got suspicious when our government fruit farm in Ditladi was attacked, that is when we realised the fly had spread into the North East. As we speak the pest has gone as far as Maitengwe,” said Thabakgolo Onalenna, the North East district plant protection officer.
“This is not a common fruit fly, but originates from Asia, somewhere in the Sri Lanka.
However, it had been detected in other African countries such as Kenya, and South Africa.
It is a stubborn pest which causes massive distraction.
And the only way to eradicate it, is to attack the host,” Onalenna continued.
The Asian Fruit Fly attacks and damages tomatoes, citrus, cucumber, mango, cashew nuts, papaya, guava, green pepper, water melons, squash, pumpkins, butternuts, banana, avocado and several wild host plants including morula and the wild monkey orange (mogorogorwana).
Onalenna said the fly was a “pest of quarantine importance” and should it be found in Francistown, they would be forced to ban movement of certain fresh produce into the city.
“So far we have teams who are controlling the fly through bait traps.
Since October and the whole of November our traps set up just outside Francistown have been empty, a good sign that our controlling mechanisms are working.”
The plant protection official feared that with the beginning of the rainy season, the fly would quickly spread into Francistown.
“If it is present here, then we are in trouble.
Should a push come to a push, we would have to ban the entry of fruits and unknown plants through our borders,” said Onalenna.