by Peter Mutai
MURANG'A, Kenya, March 29 (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Wednesday launched the first commercial protein bait factory that will produce a bait to control fruit flies.
The initiative by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) and Kenya Biologics Limited is expected to benefit the fight against the pest damaging horticultural farming, especially fruit cultivation.
"The bait that is known as fruit fly mania is set to stop damages caused by insect pests that damage yields and cause losses amounting to billions of dollars every year," ICIPE's Director General Segenet Kelemu said during the launch in Murang'a, central Kenya.
She said that the new product will retail at 70 percent less than other commercially imported baits in the market currently.
Kelemu said Africa losses 2 billion U.S. dollars every year as a result of the fruit flies.
"Our aim is to reduce yield losses and the huge expenditure incurred by growers to purchase pesticides and contribute towards reducing the health and environmental risks associated with the use and misuse of chemicals," she added.
Fruit fly mania is based on ICIPE research, which has shown that an extract from brewer's yeast, an industrial by-product from a local brewery, is capable of controlling fruit flies to levels comparable to commercial protein baits in the Kenyan market.
Given that protein is an important part of the diet of adult female fruit flies, the bait is expected to terminate female fruit flies in an environmentally friendly manner.
The extract has been tested in farmer's fields across Africa and found to be effective leading to its commercialization
Studies done by ICIPE shows that the use of protein food baits against fruit fly can reduce insecticide use by 46 percent and increase the income of farmers by 40 percent.
Chris Kolenberg, Chief Executive Officer of Kenya Biologics, revealed that 25,000 dollars has been spent in putting up the plant.
He said that the firm will be producing 2,000 liters of the product every day.
"The quantity will meet the demand of 229,000 farmers that depend on mango production in Kenya," he added.
Kolenberg noted that the firm is due to register the product in Uganda and Tanzania to help save 400,000 farmers from making losses to the flies.