sterile insect

Sterile Insect Program Supported in South Africa

Daniel CooperInternational, Pests

sterile insect
False codling moth
Photo by Kenneth R. Law, USDA APHIS PPQ,

South Africa’s Western Cape Department of Agriculture has given the country’s Citrus Growers’ Association (CGA) 2 million rands (approximately $109,000) to support the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) program to suppress false codling moth. False codling moth is a phytosanitary pest affecting export crops such as citrus, table grapes and stone fruit.

The support from the provincial government will help expand SIT’s use. SIT offers immense potential in reducing pest pressure and ensuring that South African agricultural products meet the strict standards required by international markets.

Addressing false codling moth in the Western Cape will contribute to increased export earnings, especially for the citrus industry, by creating jobs and uplifting rural communities. SIT also reduces the reliance on environmentally harmful pesticides and leads to improved fruit quality.

With SIT, colonies of false codling moths are raised in special facilities. The male and female insects are sterilized using radiation and are safely released in large numbers. Females mated with sterile males then lay eggs that do not hatch. A large decline in the pest population follows.

Trials for the SIT program in Citrusdal, South Africa, began in 2005 through a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The successes that followed led to the founding of X Sterile Insect Technique (X-SIT), which now administers the SIT program.

The high cost of SIT compared to cheaper but much less sustainable alternatives threatens its long-term viability. The program currently covers 20,400 hectares but has the potential to expand to over 40,000 hectares with adequate funding. This expansion could facilitate the creation of an estimated 50 job opportunities.

The CGA has emphasized the critical need for financial support to sustain and grow the SIT program, ensuring the continued production of export-quality residue-free fruit. Currently, the entire program is funded by citrus and table grape growers who use the service. The funding received aims to alleviate some of the financial burdens of the Western Cape growers and help ensure the continuation and expansion of the pest management strategy.

“This funding will help secure the future of our citrus industry, ensuring that it remains competitive in the global market while protecting our environment and creating jobs,” said Western Cape Minister of Agriculture Ivan Meyer.

Justin Chadwick, chief executive officer of the CGA, said, “The generous support from the Western Cape Government is a significant boost for X-SIT and everybody involved.”

Learn about concerns in Florida regarding the possible importation of false codling moth from South Africa.

Source: Western Cape Government

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