The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has helped Mauritius take an important step in the suppression of agricultural pests with the inauguration of a new facility to apply a nuclear technique to fight insects that cause annual losses of around US $6 million to farmers.
The facility will help the Indian Ocean island apply the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) to combat pests that attack fruit and vegetable crops such as mango, peach and cucumbers. The technique works by mass-rearing fruit fly insects and then using radiation to sterilize the males. These are then released in cultivated fields at weekly intervals, with the goal of significantly reducing their wild population.
“With the capacity to produce 15 million sterile flies per week, the two-storey facility will support Mauritius and the region in the suppression of key agricultural pests,” said Shaukat Abdulrazak, Director of the IAEA Division for Africa.