November 2010: The Mediterranean fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) emergence and release facility in Opuzen, Croatia, was inaugurated on 22 September 2010 in the presence of representatives of the Governments of Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, the IAEA and grower associations. The facility will support the application of the environment-friendly Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) in the Neretva river valley of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, reducing insecticide use in citrus orchards and facilitating fresh fruit exports.
The facility, which has capacity to prepare 20 million sterile males for release each week, is part of the Croatian Centre for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and has been in operation since April 2010. It is used for packing, handling and release of sterile Mediterranean fruit fly males over a 1,000 ha pilot area in the Neretva river valley. This area produces 80% of Croatia’s mandarins (Citrus reticulata). Some 70% of the crop is exported to the European Union (EU), about US $13 million a year in value.
By applying the environment-friendly Sterile Insect Technique, in combination with other sustainable control methods, the Mediterranean fruit fly population can be suppressed, leading to fewer fruit losses. The use of SIT also contributes to the reduction of pesticide residues on fruits. This aspect is extremely important for export to markets that request low fruit insecticide residues, such as the EU.
The inauguration took place in the city hall of Opuzen, Croatia, and was attended by representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Affairs of Croatia, the Government of Dubrovnik-Neretva County, the Mayor of Opuzen and Metkovic, the Croatian Centre for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the Phytosanitary and Agricultural Inspection Service of Croatia. Representatives of growers and grower associations in Croatia and the Institute for Plant Protection and Extension Service of Nerzegovina-Neretva District of Bosnia and Herzegovina were also present. Two experts from FAO/IAEA also attended the inauguration. The FAO/IAEA experts were in the region to conduct expert missions under technical cooperation project RER/5/014, which provides support for the transfer and implementation of SIT technology in the Neretva river valley.