The Federal Government has received fruit fly surveillance materials and phytosanitary equipment from the Project Coordination Unit of the Economic Community of West African States as donation to help restart the export of selected fruits from Nigeria.

The Commissioner for Economic Affairs and Agriculture, ECOWAS, Massandje Touré, disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday while presenting the equipment to the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development that the technology would reduce flies infestation on Nigerians farms, as well as cut down the loss of fruits and vegetables across the country.

Touré explained that the equipment and materials donation was aimed at reinforcing and straightening the performances of the surveillance system as well as the phytosanitary inspection teams in the FMARD for fruit flies monitoring and control.

“In fact, the invasion of fruits in West Africa by the fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, drastically reduced yields and brought to a halt the exportation of mango from Nigeria due to strict regulations imposed by the importing countries,” he stated.

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Touré, who was represented by an official in the Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development, ECOWAS, Alain Traore, explained that as a result of this, the European Union and Agence Française de Developpement, funded the project through ECOWAS.

“This project is aimed at arresting the fruit fly menace in member countries,” he stated. The commission stated that the project was executed with direct participation of farmers, whereby surveillance and early warning were demonstrated in commercial mango orchards, in addition to numerous trainings of stakeholders in the mango value chain.

It said the PCU of ECOWAS in consultation with Nigeria National Fruit Flies Management Committee decided to donate the materials and equipment for surveillance and phytosanitary inspection geared towards ushering in a sustainable surveillance network in Nigeria and the ECOWAS sub-region.

According to Touré, more than 10,000 hectares of mango farms in Benue, Oyo, Nassarawa, Kaduna, Adamawa, Plateau, among other states, would benefit from the technology.

“Nigeria alone represents 50 per cent of the population of ECOWAS; Nigeria alone represents more than 60 per cent of the economy of ECOWAS, so when we make an impact here, it means we have made impact in other ECOWAS member states,” he said.

On his part, the Permanent Secretary, FMARD, Ernest Umakhihe, who was represented by the Head of Horticulture, Dr Deola-Tayo Lordbanjou, said horticultural crops were of great importance to Nigeria, in terms of domestic consumption and export.