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CAMBODIA & PHILIPPINES : Research helping poor mango farmers in south east Asia also preparing Australian industry against cecid fly incursion

NT Country Hour By Daniel Fitzgerald

Posted about 10 hours ago

Australian research helping mango farmers in south-east Asia is hoped to also prepare northern Australian mango producers for an incursion of a pest known as the cecid fly.

00:00 AUDIO: Dr Ian Newton talks about research into the cecid fly, a pest affecting mango trees (ABC Rural)

Common in Cambodia and the Philippines, the cecid fly, also known as gall midge, causes damage to mango tree leaves, flowers and fruit.

It has been found on the northern tip of Cape York, but has not yet reached any commercial mango-producing regions in Australia.

Australian researchers from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industry and the Queensland Department of Agriculture (QDA) have been studying management techniques for the cecid fly in Cambodia and the Philippines.

Senior entomologist at the QDA, Dr Ian Newtons said part of the research, co-funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, is looking for potential biological control agents, which in addition to helping local farmers, could assist Australian mango producers if the cecid fly moves further south from Cape York.

"So if you like, natural enemies such as parasitic wasps that attack the cecid
fly,"  Dr. Newton said.

"So if it does become present in our production areas, we might be able to go back over to [Cambodia and the Phillipines], where we have been working and isolate some of these natural enemies and eventually bring them into Australia as a biological control,"  he said.

"We are trying to lift the productivity of the poorer farmers, basically to try and lift the yields and quality of their fruit and lift [their] income.

"On the cecid fly we are trying to help them develop integrated pest management programs that don't rely on a lot of expensive chemicals that don't always work and rely on a knowledge of the pest and applying practices such as pruning to manage the pest."


PHOTO: Damage caused by cecid flies on mango foliage near Bamaga in Cape York QLD.(supplied: Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. )

Damage from the cecid fly varies depending on the different species, but all can have severe impacts on mango tree yields.

"In the Philippines [damage] could be on the leaves, the flowers and even on the fruit,"  Dr. Newton said.

"We have one of the same species [in Cape York] that they have and this particular one attacks foliage, which might seem so bad but it can lead to a lot of loss of productivity of the tree and even possibly limb death."

Dr. Newton said there were currently very limited management techniques to deal with the cecid fly in Cambodia and the Philippines.

"Over in south-east Asia they tend to do a lot of bagging
, so they individually bag the fruit using newspaper or phone books, that sort of thing, and that is actually for a number of pests," he said.

"It probably helps to some extent, but often the bags break and they are not always sealed that well, so the insects can get in.

"The ones that attack the leaves can be treated with pesticides, but that is not always that effective, because once they get into the galls of the leaves they are very difficult to kill."

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