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Area-wide Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management in South and Southeast Asia Project

Fruit Fly Management Project Takes Flight in Asia

The “Area-wide Fruit Fly Integrated Pest Management in South and Southeast Asia” is a regional project funded by the Taiwanese development organization ICDF (International Cooperation and Development Fund) and supported by the Global Horticulture Initiative with a focus on adaptation and adoption of fruit fly IPM practices amongst   smallholders producing fruit and vegetables.  

While originally managed and facilitated by GlobalHort this project now runs independently funded by the FAO IPM Management Program and ICDF. For current information on this project please click here.

Fruit Flies: A Serious Problem in the Tropics


Fruit fly damage in Guava and Rose apples, export crops in Thailand (photo by CF)

Fruit flies are the most damaging pests of fruits and  vegetables in South and South-East Asia, causing yield losses that rate from 65 to 100%, depending on season and variety of the crop. The larvae feed inside the fruits making them unmarketable and unfit for human consumption. As they can easily spread and becoming invasive, fruit flies are rigorously controlled quarantine pests in all tropical and subtropical countries.  

The pest is seriously undermining fruit and vegetable production and livelihood sustainability at the smallholder farm level especially in the Mekong River Basin countries.  Due to extended seasons of fruiting and interregional fruit product exchange, the level of infestation and resulting damage has increased many folds in the past decades. Losses in trade value are serious due to strict quarantine regulations in many importing countries.  An ecologically sound and highly effective solution resides in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) that aims to reduce the use of pesticides for to address human health and environmental issues, and to limit the development of resistance in the pest populations. IPM is also expected to increase the income of producers with higher quality products and lower input costs. 

Expected Project Outcomes 

The project is intended to test, promote and disseminate amongMekong River Basin countries (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar) are participating project partners. (GIS map done by AFF project)  smallholder farmers a range of IPM options for fruit fly management within the context of ongoing IPM farmer training and action research programs in the Mekong river basin countries. This project provides a good opportunity to assemble simple and effective management tools into a comprehensive and area-wide fruit fly IPM strategy.  IPM strategies and respective training modules will be developed, which will later be used to educate farmers at existing Farmer Field Schools.                                                     


Under the coordination of the Bangkok-based Asian Institute of Technology and the FAO-IPM Program, the project is implemented by running Integrated Pest Management Programs in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand, and might even be extended to Myanmar.   The major activities proposed include:

  • the development of ecologically sound management options; and
  • training of trainers, extension officials and farmers, by using Farmers’ Field Schools (FFS), which have been widely established in all Mekong river basin countries for more than a decade.




Farmers’ Field School in Thailand (photo from Thai IPM Project)

Farmers Field Schools are a popular agricultural extension method, serving 25 farmers and running season-long (from sowing to harvest).  Farmers learn about crop ecology and pest management in the field, the adoption of IPM, the optimal use of inputs (biological control before chemical sprays), the conservation of natural resources, and the production of healthy crops with reduced pesticide residues, all with a participatory learning-by-doing approach. The farmers are empowered to become experts, participating in design, implementation and analysis of field studies in their own fields. 






Project Inception Workshop held in Bangkok, Thailand September 1-3, 2010

Background information on fruit flies in Asia, emerging issues of invasive pests along with Fruit fly management experiences from other parts of Asia were presented and discussed during a 2 day inception workshop in Bangkok, Thailand.  >>Read More


It was evident that fruit fly management has not yet been adequately addressed in the Mekong River Basin countries. From the perspective of control, the cover spraying of insecticides (e.g. Deltametrin, Malathion) has been reported to be inappropriate as it has several disadvantages in terms of:

  1. damage caused to beneficial organisms and the environment;  
  2. health impacts on the farmer/ worker who undertake spraying;
  3. discovery  of chemical residues in fruits and subsequent rejection by importing countries;
  4. cost-ineffectiveness; and
  5. labor and time intensity.

Sprays with botanicals (e.g. Neem) and pathogens (nematodes,Simple handmade traps (with pheromones like Methyl Eugenol as a bait) to attract the fruit fly males (photo by CF) fungi and bacteria) are equally effective, however are still being researched and not yet commercially available everywhere (except Neem). Adaptive research in the field has still to be carried out to be able to find the best solution package for each location. This is where participatory approach shall take place and have impact.

Ripening fruits are traditionally covered with paper to avoid infestation by fruit flies. The bagging of fruit begins 3 months after flowering. The growers maintain only one fruit per branch to be able to achieve a marketable size . (photo by Chou Cheythyrith, FAO- IPM Coordinator, Cambodia)  Other strategies of control include bagging of fruits (whereby the individual fruits are wrapped in paper to protect infestation by fruit flies) and trapping with various baits (pheromones and protein baits). Bagging is very labor intensive and not sufficiently effective, while trapping with pheromones requires some technical know-how and costly input of product, which is not available everywhere.


Next Steps and Future Plans

Cambodian farmer checking his fruit fly traps (by Chou Cheythyrith, FAO- IPM Coordinator, Cambodia )

The lack of technical expertise on various aspects of fruit flies and lack of familiarity with the most effective trapping technologies were identified for all participating countries.  A major challenge addressed by this project lies in raising awareness  about the importance of a community-wide approach, without which re-infestation by fruit flies is anticipated. When cooperative control measures are carried out by all farmers in an infested area (for example in a village of about 1 sq kilometer), effectiveness is expected to double in comparison to the same controls used at farm level without coordination. This cooperative control will be introduced via the Farmer Field Schools, through which capacity building activities will be carried out.

This project will be running for a two-year period and is expected to be extended.  GlobalHort will continue to strengthen its partnerships globally and disseminate knowledge from this project to other  communities of smallholder farmers engaged with horticultural crops


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