IAEA and FAO providing support to Moroccan horticultural industry to manage Mediterranean Fruit Fly through the Sterile Insect Technique
Vienna, 17 April 2015. The Mediterranean fruit fly is among the most devastating of pests for agricultural crops. Insecticide applications are routinely used to control them but this is not sustainable in view of the development of insecticide resistance and negative impacts on humans and the environment, as well as on international trade.
Morocco is a major producer and exporter of fresh citrus, especially in the Souss Valley, a key production region that produces 75% of Moroccan citrus exports. After implementing a successful pilot project implementing the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) in a citrus area near Agadir, the Moroccan Government has decided to extend the approach to the whole Souss Valley, covering eventually over 100,000 hectares of citrus orchards.
In this regard, a senior executive consultation meeting was held at the IAEA in Vienna on 16th April between Moroccan and IAEA Managers on the Implementation of the Morocco Sterile Insect technique (SIT) Mediterranean Fruit Fly Project. The meeting, which was attended by the Director General of the National Plant Protection Organization of Morocco (ONSAA) and the President of the Citrus Producers (Maroc Citrus), reviewed the success of the on-going pilot project and agreed on further strategic directions and technology transfer, including the building of a mass-rearing factory that will allow Morocco to produce between 130-200 million sterile males/week. The objective is for Morocco to gain autonomy in this sector by no longer importing the sterile males and to gradually switch from insecticide-based suppression techniques to the SIT, which offers a much cleaner, sustainable and environmentally friendly way to control insect pests.