Kenyan flower industry looks to biological solutions to effectively control the False Codling Moth (FCM)

Staff
10 Min Read

Since its outbreak in Kenya in 2007, The False Codling Moth has remained one of the most problematic pests in Kenya’s fresh produce export sector.

Flowers, specifically roses, are increasingly facing interceptions in Europe due to the pest. Last year, the European Commission and the European Union advised it was considering increasing the minimum percentage of plant health import inspections from Kenya and Ethiopia, to 25 per cent up from 10 and 5 respectively.

The changes are expected to take effect anytime this year. Current reports indicate there is no letup in the headache, but all is not lost according to crop protection experts.

HAMISH KER is the CEO of Andermatt Kenya, a biological solutions provider with a range of products, some specific to effective control of FCM in the Kenyan rose to mitigate the increasing risk associated with this pest for market access.

The Swiss top biological pests, diseases and plant nutrition products manufacturer in Europe opened in Kenya five years ago as Andermatt Kenya Limited to serve the country and the Eastern Africa region with natural inputs for safe management of plant problems.

Hamish talks on effective management of the problematic quarantine pest.

Question: Today, Kenyan rose farms are facing increasing threats from FCM with its status as a notifiable pest. Why do you believe Andermatt Kenya has a solution for the pest?
Hamish: Let me start by giving a background on the long history of the company so you understand why we are confident we have a solution. Andermatt Kenya is a subsidiary of the Andermatt Group, which was founded over 30 years ago by Dr Martin and Dr Isabel Andermatt. Incidentally, the group started with the production of a plant protection product called MADEX based on baculoviruses to control a specifically challenging pest the Codling Moth and this was a great success. Today, as a result, the Andermatt Group is now recognized as a global leader in providing such bespoke biological solutions.

Question: What is baculovirus, what is Madex, and what is the success you were talking about?
Hamish; Baculovirus is an insect specific virus which is naturally present in the environment. Madex is the first baculovirus product which was developed by the Andermatt Group. It specifically infects Cydia pomonella, the codling moth which is a key pest in pome fruit production. The first registration was received in 1988 in Switzerland, where it was then successfully introduced in organic apple production as at that time there was no effective biological control method for this pest. Later on, issues with resistance to chemical insecticides created a demand for alternatives in integrated production, where nowadays Madex is an important part of the codling moth control. Since then, Madex products have been registered in over 30 countries worldwide. Besides effective control of codling moth, the main reasons for its worldwide use are protection of beneficial organisms, zero residue production and resistance management.

Question: What is the Andermatt solution for the FCM and why do you believe in its efficacy?
Hamish ; As I have mentioned, the Andermatt Group developed Madex a target/pest specific baculovirus to manage Codling Moth over 30 years ago and with this success they have over the years developed a number of world leading baculovirus solutions to manage challenging resistant pests such as the FCM. One of the most effective products in this line is CRYPTEX® (Thaumatotibia leucotreta) for control of the FCM. It has been proven to be the leading preventive/curative product in multiple crops in Africa including grapes, citrus to avocado to name a few. Following the success of CRYPTEX® in Southern Africa in a range of crops, Andermatt Kenya has successfully registered CRYPTEX® (PCPB (CR) 1969 as the go to product to control FCM in roses, avocado and capsicum.

In addition to CRYPTEX® we have Thuricide®H.P (PCPB (CR) 0105) a bioinsecticide containing spores of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) sub species Kurstaki, a spore forming bacterium which produces crystals of protein Endotoxin. The Endotoxin is specifically toxic to many lepidopteran(caterpillar) larvae including the FCM.

Lastly we have Eco-Bb (PCPB (CR) 2308) a broad spectrum contact bioinsecticide containing spores of fungi Beauveria bassiana which has proven to be effective at controlling a broad range of critical roses pests from thrips, red spider mites, mealybugs and FCM.

For more detail on the specific modes of action please visit Andermatt Africa website and look up our product range –

Question: You have talked us through the Andermatt solutions but how can rose farmers be confident that these products will firstly control the current FCM pressure as well as future outbreaks ?
Hamish: These products have been tested for their efficacy both in the registration process as well as commercially on a number of farms in Kenya, and based on their recorded efficacy we are confident they provide both an effective as well as environmentally sound solution to all these important pests.

Question: What other challenges do you see in managing FCM and what can the industry do collectively to insure this pest does not continue to threaten the industry in Kenya ?
Hamish: The KEY challenge is to have a joint approach to managing this pest from all sectors in the agri industry as it affects not only roses but also other export crops such as avocado and capsicum – we need to have a national focus on this pest in order to manage/contain the population especially in and around key farming areas to insure the pest is not breeding/multiplying in areas/farms adjacent to KEY commercial export farms/crops – FCM pest is not about managing it individually as a farm but collectively as interceptions impact the status of Kenya as a whole so we must join hands as the fresh produce industry and put in place measures to control this pest in a consistent manner and not wait for flare ups/outbreaks which in a number of cases is too late, leading to interceptions in Europe – I am confident if farms/Agricultural sector put in place control measures and consistent preventative programmes we will see a significant reduction in this pest avoiding further escalation of the same in our valued export markets.

Question: Hamish we have talked of the FCM challenge to roses but is FCM a wider risk to Kenyan export industry – I understand FCM also affects avocado and chilli?
Hamish: Yes as I stated earlier, it also affects avocado as well as capsicum – so we need to ensure we control this pest not only in roses but in all other crops susceptible to FCM, which potentially can be impacted given the export status of this pest.

Question: Further to biological control of FCM in roses do you see biological solutions providing Rose/flower farmers with both practical and sustainable answers to the future of cut flower production as we see the global market moving towards a greener world ?
Hamish: Good question! There are multiple biological solutions to improve farmers returns as well as simultaneously reduce their impact on the environment – as Andermatt we look to nature to provide real answers and given that nature gave rise to the pest/disease challenges it will also be the one to provide the solution to balance/correct the same but in a sustainable way – we focus on first and foremost on plant nutrition and this begins with a healthy foundation of roots and soil(media) – if we take care of the nutrition/health of the crop in a truly holistic way we will grow crops which are far more resilient and productive but also in a way that is more cost effective for the farmer and grow produce which is based on the Andermatt Ethos of “Healthy Food, Healthy Environment, for all”

Question: Parting shot?
Hamish: We have a demo farm in Naivasha, and welcome farmers, crop protection and nutrition practitioners; agriculture students and other interested stakeholders to visit and see a practical approach to nature’s solutions to nature’s challenges by Andermatt. Seeing is believing!

For more information:
Andermatt Biocontrol
Stahlermatten 6
6146 Grossdietwil
Switzerland
Tel. +41 62 917 51 25
Fax +41 62 917 50 06
[email protected]
www.andermattbiocontrol.com

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