Papaya mealybug invaded East Africa between 2015 to 2020. The pest causes 57%- 91% yield and £2,224/ha household economic losses annually and severely impacts the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. As a means of control, nearly 51% of farmers manage the pest using pesticides which harm insect biodiversity in addition to other non-target effects. Biological control is an ecologically friendlier approach that has controlled papaya mealybug elsewhere around the globe. This project aims to introduce Acerophagus papayae for classical biological control of papaya mealybug. Through this initiative, the project intends to improve the capacity of farmers and extension services to adopt climate-smart conservation biocontrol practices that interface with biodiversity conservation efforts and ultimately enhance food security.
Trade in mango, avocado, papaya and citrus within the East African Community region, the European Union and China at import and export levels have been rising. However, meeting the increasing demand is being affected by a number of crop pests and diseases. In East Africa, scale insects – mealybug pests such as Papaya mealybug and fruit tree mealybug – are impacting cultivation and yields. To tackle these pests and increase trade, CABI is working with partners to increase compliance with sanitary and phytosanitary requirements through improved surveillance and management of scale insect pests in East Africa.