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Area-Wide Integrated Fruit Fly Management Paves the Way for Increasing Panama’s Fruit and Vegetable Production and Exports


IAEA and local experts visited the new offices of the Panamanian National Fruit Fly Programme in the Chiriquí Province. (Photo: IAEA) 

Few pests have a greater impact on world trade in agricultural products than tephritid fruit flies. They cause major losses in fruit and vegetables, and are often the target of intensive insecticide applications to protect commercial production. Their economic consequences are so great that countries free of the major tephritids prohibit the import of fresh produce from countries where these pests are endemic, and have active detection and emergency response programmes in place to maintain their fruit fly free status.

The Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) is often used as part of area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) programmes that aim to establish areas with a low pest prevalence (ALPP) or even pest-free areas (PFA) Increasingly, SIT is also being applied as part of an integrated approach for area-wide suppression to achieve ALPP status. Horticultural products cultivated in PFA do not require quarantine measures for international trade. Products produced in ALPP can be commercialized in international markets, however, only when they are part of a set of pest mitigation measures known as a systems approach where the ALPP is one of the prerequisites. Postharvest treatments can be a pest mitigation measure in a systems approach.

Panama has embarked on an IAEA technical cooperation project[1] to expand and strengthen a phytosanitary surveillance system for non-native fruit flies of economic and quarantine importance. The goal is to facilitate the establishment and maintenance of PFA and ALPP, and to determine potential technological alternatives for post-harvest quarantine treatments for agricultural products to facilitate the trade of fruit and vegetables.

IAEA and local experts also exchanged information to guide future actions in this area. (Photo: MIDA)

Within the framework of this project, an IAEA expert from the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture  visited Panama to meet officials from Panama’s National Plant Protection Directorate of the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MIDA), and  to discuss options for post-harvest quarantine treatments against fruit flies with fruit and vegetable producers, with the goal of facilitating the international trade of fruit and vegetable products. The IAEA expert also provided training and exchanged information to guide future actions in this area.

The IAEA’s technical cooperation programme and the Joint FAO/IAEA Division have been working with Panama in this area for over ten years, and this support has been instrumental in strengthening the capacity of Panama’s National Fruit Fly Programme. This Programme is designed to ensure that the country meets the standards required by trading partners, and thus facilitates the export of fruits and vegetables grown in Panama. This has had positive consequences on the horticultural industry and in general on socioeconomic development of the country.


[1] PAN5025: ‘Expanding and Strengthening the Phytosanitary Surveillance System for Fruit Fly, Emphasizing Exotic Species of Quarantine Importance, and Exploring the Use of Nuclear Techniques for Post-Harvest Treatment as a Complementary Action’

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