The millions of dollars lost by the tropical fruit industry each year to infestations of fruit fly will be reduced with the establishment of a network of fruit fly experts in South-East Asia.
The final in a series of three workshops to train government agricultural officers and plant quarantine personnel has now been scheduled for March 2006 in Bangkok, Thailand. The workshops have been coordinated through the support of the APEC Agricultural Technology Cooperation Working Group operating under the auspices of the ASEAN Plant Health Cooperation Network.
At the first two workshops in Malaysia, participants were trained in methods of collecting, identifying and preserving fruit flies in their local areas and were then able to compare these with collected fruit fly specimens. The final workshop in Thailand will teach participants how to use the fruit fly information they have obtained to build national databases and share this at a regional level.
The fruit fly information network will share details on where certain species of fruit fly are active, pool information on measures that have been effective in controlling the spread of fruit fly species and help to determine where quarantine bans may or may not be effective.
Director of the Regional Office of the International Centre for the Management of Pest Fruit Flies in Malaysia, Ms Asna Booty, said the information sharing network will be a significant milestone for overcoming the damage caused by the fruit fly.
"The fruit fly workshops are developing a network of fruit fly experts around the region who are able to exchange vital information to deal with the fruit fly menace," Ms Booty said.
"It is our hope that as people in the region learn more about how to control fruit flies this issue will no longer be considered as too difficult for most entomologists to tackle.
"Many APEC Member Economies are capitalizing on the rising demand for tropical fruits and vegetables in export markets but this is being threatened by fruit fly attack.
"Unless a more coordinated approach is taken to control this pest several economies may be tempted to implement stringent quarantine bans. Closing borders to the movement of exotic fruits and vegetables would harm many thousands of small producers and traders so we must seek a solution through collective effort.
"To ensure any new controls on the spread of fruit fly do not undermine trade, workshop participants are also being trained to implement fruit fly control rules that conform to quarantine negotiations under the Sanitary and Phytosanitary provisions of the World Trade Agreement."
Conducted by the International Centre for Management of Pest Fruit Flies at Griffith University Australia, the series of workshops are being funded by AusAID. Participants from the APEC Member Economies of Australia, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam together with non-APEC ASEAN Members are attending the workshops.