ARDN enhances AMS’ capacity in fruit fly identification

Indonesia, 30 October 2018 - Representatives from ASEAN Member States (AMS) took a step forward in increasing their understanding of fruit fly identification during a four-day diagnostic workshop at the Applied Research Institute for Agricultural Quarantine in Bekasi, Indonesia. The workshop was attended by technical specialists from agricultural quarantine and plant protection agencies and focused on developing participants skills in the identification of fruit flies using morphology and DNA barcodes.

Lead trainer, Dr. Mark Schutze from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) in Australia, stated that fruit flies are major pests of fruit and vegetables which can cause huge losses and great hardships to farmers if not properly managed.

The workshop provided an opportunity for AMS officials to expand their capability to accurately identify fruit fly species and document which fruit flies are already present in their country so that they can develop evidence-based quarantine policies and operations. Discussions among participants highlighted the need for National Plant Protection Organizations in importing Parties to document which fruit flies are associated with certain imports so they can assess possible risks.

Dr Yuvarin Boontop from Thailands Department of Agriculture stated "all quarantine agencies in the region understand that there are fruit fly risks associated with international trade in fruits and vegetables. All countries want to export more but we really do not want to cause harm to other countries by spreading new species of fruit flies."

Workshop participants were also able to take advantage of a new computer-based key to fruit flies, developed by Dr Schutze and his colleagues, which accounts for progress in the taxonomy of these insects. The new computer-based key makes the identification process easier because it is interactive and accompanied by high-resolution photographs.

One of the trainers, Ms. Jane Royer from QDAF, stressed the importance of the workshop since it provides practice and one-on-one guidance in using the new computer-based key.

"Fruit flies are not easy to identify but this workshop was very helpful for us. We have to be good at it if we are going to manage pest problems and export our beautiful mangoes" said Dr. Mu Mu Thein of Myanmars Plant Protection Division.

Ms. Ho Thi Xuan Huong of Viet Nams Plant Protection Department also said the workshop will help them in identifying fruit flies from their trapping program at their national borders to keep Viet Nam safe from invading pests.

The workshop was organized under the ASEAN Regional Diagnostic Network (ARDN) project being supported by the ASEAN - Australia - New Zealand Free Trade Area Economic Cooperation Support Program (AECSP). The workshop also received additional assistance from a pest surveillance and reporting project supported by the Standards and Trade Development Facility.

ARDN is a multiphase project which aims to strengthen an ASEAN-wide cooperative system for delivering credible plant pest diagnostic services by enhancing capacity and proficiency among AMS in the identification of plant pests.

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