Brazil Goes High Tech to Fight Fruit Fly

Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology will invest US$ 1.34 million in a project for the installation of a biofactory in the industrial district of Juazeiro, in the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia.

The unit, due to be inaugurated in November, will breed sterile insects that will be used to combat pests, in mango orchards in the irrigated fruit agriculture hub of the São Francisco River Valley.


The project, evaluated in US$ 4.99 million, also involves resources from the state governments of Bahia and Pernambuco, also in the Northeast region of Brazil.


According to the president of the Studies and Projects Funding Body (Finep), Sérgio Resende, the biofactory will contribute to improve the economic development and social conditions of the region.


With the undertaking, 500 direct and indirect jobs will be created. The factory is in its final installation phase and the money from the ministry will be used to finalize the construction.


The idea of the project is to use more efficient techniques to control fruit flies, currently done with traps installed in 11,000 hectares in 857 farms in Bahia and Pernambuco.


Insect monitoring is an indispensable practice for the producers who sell the fruit in the North American market, responsible for consuming 90% of the mango produced in Brazil and sold abroad.


In the beginning of this year, Brazil started exporting the fruit also to Japan, where the opening of the market had been in negotiation for at least ten years.


The biological combat to the pest will be made through placing 100 million male sterile insects every week, in the cultivated areas. Released into nature, they will copulate with the females, which will not be able to reproduce anymore.


The technique will also allow for the reduction of the use of chemical products in the orchards. The insects will be released into nature through refrigerated trucks or aeroplanes directly onto the plantation areas.


As well as mango, the insect, also known as Mediterranean fly, attacks other kinds of tropical fruits, such as grapes and guava and causes losses of US$ 57.56 million to US$ 76.74 million every year in the Brazilian orchards. The insect started proliferating in Brazil in the end of the nineteenth century.


The idea to build the biofactory, which will be called Moscamed Brasil (where ‘mosca’ means ‘fly’ in Portuguese), was launched in 2000, in a meeting between the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) and representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture, state secretariats for agriculture, the University of São Paulo (USP) and the United States Department of Agriculture.


The biofactory should increase the productivity in the Brazilian fruit agriculture, a sector that has been gaining importance in the national economy.


Last year, the country exported 850,000 tons of fruit, which meant revenues of US$ 370 million. The increase, in volume, was of 5%, and in value, of 10%. The revenue with mango exports was of US$ 64.3 million. It was the second most exported fruit by the country.


ABr, Anba

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