Pacific Fruit Fly Project

Pacifly is the Pacific 's fruit fly web page which contains information about economic and non economic species of fruit flies in all the Pacific Island Countries and Territorries. Fruitflies are serious pests throughout tropical and sub tropical countries. They constitute of one of the worlds major insect pest in fresh fruits and fleshy vegetables. In every PICT, there is at least one damaging endemic fruit fly species present. Fruitflies cause direct losses to  fruit production and  in instances  where exotic species became established in a country, very expensive eradication programes had to be carried out. The Pacifly aims to provide detailed information of everything related to Fruit flies.

Pacific Fruit Fly Project
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 10:36

Project origin and design preparation

Australia and New Zealand, through AusAID and NZODA respectively, have been supporting plant protection and quarantine services in the Pacific Island region through their assistance to the Plant Protection Service of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC-PPS). All partners agreed to the design of a multi-component project that would integrate a number of activities into a single framework and show the linkages to projects supported by other donors.

Following initial informal discussions, Dr Mick Lloyd, Head of SPC-PPS, presented a concept paper to AusAID in May 1999 which broadly outlined the current project design. AusAID and SPC subsequently agreed on a two-stage approach to the design of the project to be known as Pest Management in the Pacific (PMP). The first stage involved a one-week visit by Dr Robert Ferraris, Agricultural Adviser of AusAID, to SPC Suva to work with Dr Lloyd and his team. The next stage resulted in this Project Design Document (PDD), prepared by SPC’s design team.

Following an appraisal of the PDD, New Zealand decided that operational and administrative efficiencies provided justification for including the plant protection project in the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau as one component within the multi-component PMP.

Problem analysis and strategies chosen

Global and regional trends in plant protection and quarantine are creating challenges for which Pacific Island communities are not prepared. The World Trade Organisation, for example, drives the globalisation of quarantine standards that will govern international trade. However, the capacity of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to respond to such changes as well as to existing problems remains limited. A number of pests (e.g. fruit flies and taro beetle) have become established and threaten to spread in the region, affecting food security, export opportunities and the environment.


Unless these challenges are addressed, export markets may be lost and food security in Pacific Island communities threatened. Negative socio-economic, environmental and public health impacts can be expected.

The proposed project will assist Pacific Island communities by:

developing environmentally sustainable management systems for priority pests;
developing plant protection and quarantine capacities in selected target countries in Micronesia; and
assisting countries to develop alternatives to methyl bromide treatment.

While the SPC accounting system will clearly identify support from Australia and New Zealand during project implementation, the project will become an integral part of the response by SPC-PPS to the challenges the region faces.


Project description

The goal of this project is to contribute to the alleviation of poverty and to promote sustainability and self-reliance in Pacific communities. Its purpose is to make a contribution to the stabilisation of communities and the economic growth of Pacific Island countries and territories through facilitating trade and protecting agricultural industries and natural resources from pests and diseases.

The project will be managed from SPC’s Suva office in Fiji. Project components or parts of components may be located elsewhere in the region, as appropriate. The duration of the project is four years.

Pest Management in the Pacific comprises the following seven components:

Component 1 Project Management Services (PMS), managing the PMP project.

Component 2 Fruit Fly Management (FFM), formerly Regional Management of Fruit Flies Project, operating in 22 Pacific Island countries and territories.

Component 3 Taro Beetle Management (TBM), developing a sustainable taro beetle management programme for infested countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, New Caledonia and Kiribati.

Component 4 Methyl Bromide Alternatives (MBA), minimising the impact in the Pacific of phasing out of methyl bromide fumigation as quarantine treatment in 22 Pacific Island countries.

Component 5 Plant Protection Micronesia (PPM), focusing on transfer of sustainable pest management to farmers and on trade facilitation aspects of quarantine services in Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Nauru.

Component 6 Information and Extension Services (IES), providing materials and skills to transfer technology from all components to farmers and quarantine services.

Component 7 Plant protection in Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau (CNT), funded by NZODA, providing services complementary to PPM in Micronesia and the EU-funded Pacific Plant Protection Services (PPPS) in the rest of Polynesia.


Problem analysis and strategies chosen

Global and regional trends in plant protection and quarantine are creating challenges for which Pacific Island communities are not prepared. The World Trade Organisation, for example, drives the globalisation of quarantine standards that will govern international trade. However, the capacity of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) to respond to such changes as well as to existing problems remains limited. A number of pests (e.g. fruit flies and taro beetle) have become established and threaten to spread in the region, affecting food security, export opportunities and the environment.

Unless these challenges are addressed, export markets may be lost and food security in Pacific Island communities threatened. Negative socio-economic, environmental and public health impacts can be expected.

The proposed project will assist Pacific Island communities by:

developing environmentally sustainable management systems for priority pests;
developing plant protection and quarantine capacities in selected target countries in Micronesia; and
assisting countries to develop alternatives to methyl bromide treatment.

While the SPC accounting system will clearly identify support from Australia and New Zealand during project implementation, the project will become an integral part of the response by SPC-PPS to the challenges the region faces.


Implementation through SPC

By consolidating NZODA and AusAID support for plant protection in the Pacific into one PMP project in the SPC-Plant Protection Service, administrative and operational efficiencies will be achieved.

This approach will partly address the observations made in the OECD–DAC review of NZODA, in relation to the high administrative costs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade projects. It could also be seen as a response to Australia’s past aid strategy which states that: ‘Australian aid for agricultural development in Pacific Island countries has tended to be somewhat fragmentary, not sufficiently outcomes-oriented and not always well integrated with national programs and objectives’.

Recognising the critical role regional organisations play in co-operation and capacity building, Australia has expressed its intention to implement more projects in the Pacific through regional organisations. It also recognises the efficiencies to be gained by delivering programmes on a regional basis with streamlined administrative mechanisms.


This efficiency factor is one reason why Australia and New Zealand frequently select regional organisations as implementing agencies for their projects. In addition, their governance arrangements, which bring together donor and island country members to set priorities, promote understanding and ownership of the programmes they deliver.


Benefits, risks, justification

By ensuring durable food supplies of better quality and variety, stabilising island ecosystems and facilitating trade, PMP will contribute to the goals of the aid programmes of New Zealand and Australia. That is, it will assist in alleviating poverty, and in promoting sustainability and self-reliance in Pacific communities.

Augmenting plant protection and quarantine services among their Pacific neighbours is also in the interests of Australia and New Zealand. The growing links of these countries with PICTs through tourism and trade increase their own pest threats. Presently, the risk is especially associated with countries that have major pest problems such as Papua New Guinea, yet the risk over the longer term multiplies if such problems are allowed to become established in other island countries. Papua New Guinea has traditional ties with Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. After PICTs conclude their regional agreement for trade liberalisation, increased trade with Polynesian and Micronesian communities will also heighten the risk of pest outbreaks in PICTs closer to New Zealand.

Pests do not respect national borders. A Pacific pest problem is a problem for Australia and New Zealand, and vice versa. Thus interdependence is integral to pest management in the region. Maintaining a low pest status in PICTs is in the economic interests of Australasia, as it helps Australia and New Zealand to maintain their own low pest status along with their competitiveness in global trade.

The costs of the proposed project are relatively modest. However, the opportunity costs of not intervening in the sector are likely to be substantial in terms of lost export markets, diminished food security and serious harm to the environment and public health.

The risks associated with the project are likely to be small. It will be implemented by SPC’s Plant Protection Service which has demonstrated its capacity to manage large projects effectively and efficiently. The Plant Protection Service is backed by the resources of one of the largest regional organisations in the Pacific Island region and will be able to use its extensive established network of contacts throughout the region and beyond.


Component 2 - Fruit Fly Management

In the Pacific and worldwide, it has long been recognised that fruit flies are a major pest to fresh fruits and fleshy vegetables, whether grown for domestic consumption or for export. They are thus a major constraint to food security and trade.

In September 1990, the Regional Project on Fruit Fly Control Strategies began. It was funded as a one-year FAO Technical Co-operation Project (TCP) with Fiji, Tonga, Samoa and the Cook Islands. It was later extended to run until December 1993 and renamed the Regional Project on the Enhancement of Production and Export of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in the South Pacific (short title: Regional Fruit Fly Project, RFFP), with joint funding from UNDP, AusAID and another short-term TCP through FAO. Also at this time, an ACIAR-funded project was launched; complementary to RFFP, its primary aims were to identify and determine the distribution of fruit flies in the South Pacific, and to assist with research into protein bait sprays.

The overall aims of these projects were to upgrade technical knowledge of how fruit flies affect production and export of fresh fruits and vegetables, to reduce damage caused by fruit flies, and to remove quarantine constraints on the export of produce from PICTs.


The major achievements of the regional fruit fly project are summarised in a later section. For convenience, the achievements are organised under the following categories:

information and technology transfer to farmers;
surveillance systems and emergency response to incursions;
regional management of fruit flies; and
trade facilitation.


Expected outputs and associated activities detailed below fall into the same four groups of ongoing activities and new initiatives, as indicated under each output.

Based on the good progress made, collaborating donors agreed to extend RFFP for a further three years, through to April 1997. Three new countries were added to its scope: Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and FSM. Its aims were also expanded; an objective now was to transfer existing technologies to these countries, with particular emphasis on control strategies for fruit flies to improve food security and protect the environment.

From May 1997, the project was extended for a further three years and to the remaining 15 PICTs. It was renamed the Project on Regional Management of Fruit Flies in the Pacific (RMFFP) and reoriented to minimise the impact of fruit flies on domestic fruit production and consumption as well on facilitating trade. Another major change in focus was to establish quarantine surveillance for exotic fruit flies in every PICT and to significantly improve their capacity to respond quickly to any incursion of exotic fruit flies.


By using the unspent balance of funds, RMFFP is able to continue operations from April to December 2000, with a level of donor funding that is lower than normal.



Fruit flies (family Tephritidae) are a major group of insect pests worldwide, including in the Pacific. Every PICT has at least one fruit fly species that seriously infests edible fruit and fleshy vegetables.

PHALPS 13 and CROP rated fruit flies as the pest group with the highest priority for attention from the Plant Protection Service which was, in turn, rated as the service with the highest priority in the SPC agriculture programme. In identifying new regional agricultural priorities in October 1999, the PHALPS subcommittee gave very high priority to control, surveillance and eradication of fruit flies.

As McGregor notes, Nauru is a striking example of how the impact of fruit fly activities can spread well beyond a single PICT. Because Nauru had no quarantine services until December 1999, several new pests, including melon fly and oriental fruit fly, established themselves on the island, putting at risk countries which have transport links with Nauru. However, when these fruit flies were eradicated in 1999, the outcome not only assisted domestic fresh fruit production, but also removed a Pacific epicentre of these two very harmful pests. Similarly, the establishment of oriental fruit fly in French Polynesia in 1996 has threatened food security in the Cook Islands, while the spread of melon fly into Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands threatens lucrative squash production in Vanuatu.


Family and cultural ties link neighbouring PICTs. The pattern of distribution of fruit fly species also follows such ties. For example, there is a well-documented threat of a ‘pest continuum’ which may see the same species spread across Australia, Torres Strait Islands, PNG and Solomon Islands. The magnitude of this threat is considerable given that PNG has more than 200 species of fruit flies while Solomon Islands has more than 48 species (including some of the most damaging species in the world, e.g. Asian papaya fruit fly, melon fly). Elsewhere, Rotuma and Wallis and Futuna have fruit fly species in common with Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, reflecting the cultural ties among these countries.

It is critical that project activities in PNG and Solomon Islands continue, in order to ensure the quarantine security in countries to the north, east and south, including Australia and New Zealand. Similarly, fruit fly activities need to be maintained in the Micronesian countries which have trade and cultural links with Hawai‘i and South East Asian countries such as the Philippines and Republic of China, Taiwan.

So far, it may be claimed that regionally the RMFFP has achieved a high rate of return economically, in terms of expanding export earnings and protecting domestic food production. The internal rate of return in 1999 (assessed benefits based on exports compared with project costs) was a substantial 19 per cent. Over the long term there remains a collective regional responsibility to support the regional management of fruit fly pests in the Pacific, on the grounds that the benefits and costs of such management extend far beyond national boundaries.

Main Achievements

1. Information, public awareness and technology transfer to farmers

Staff from most PICTs have received training on fruit fly management during courses and attachments.

Farmers in several PICTs have adopted protein bait spraying; bait has been locally produced from brewery waste yeast in Tonga, and it soon will be in Vanuatu. Fruit bagging and crop sanitation was demonstrated to farmers as an integrated (sustainable) pest management strategy for the region.

Thirteen pest advisory leaflets on fruit flies and their control have been published. A book on management of fruit flies in the Pacific, containing 52 papers, was published as a result of a regional symposium held in Fiji in 1996. A comprehensive socio-economic study of benefits of fruit fly projects in the Pacific was compiled and published.

A web site on fruit flies in the Pacific has been developed at .


2. Surveillance and emergency response to combat incursions

A network of quarantine surveillance through permanent fruit fly trapping sites has been established in 21 PICTs. In addition, 13 PICTs regularly sample high-risk commodities that are potential hosts for exotic pest fruit flies.

An emergency response plan to cope with incursions of exotic fruit flies has been finalised in Fiji and ERPs have been developed to draft form in 12 other PICTs.

Three of the four fruit fly species in Nauru have been successfully eradicated through male annihilation and protein bait spraying. Forty-one research and quarantine staff from 19 PICTs received hands-on training in eradication methods, quarantine surveillance and emergency response planning. Technical advice was provided to the oriental fruit fly eradication programme in Tahiti, and to initiate a similar programme in Palau with funding from the Palau Government and USDA.


3. Sustained regional management of fruit flies

Adequate laboratory facilities for fruit fly research have been established in 13 PICTs.

Major input was given to handle the complex fruit fly situation in Papua New Guinea, in collaboration with a sister project funded by ACIAR and executed by the fruit fly team at Griffith University, Brisbane.

Three Steering Committee meetings were held to consult PICTs on their views about RMFFP priorities to serve needs of PICTs.

RMFFP has been staffed and managed as a unit within SPC-Plant Protection Service, allowing continuity and sustained technical and administrative support.


4. Trade facilitation

Trade in fresh fruit and vegetables has been re-established, with a basis for negotiating growth in this trade.

Laboratory colonies of fruit flies have been established in 10 PICTs, for the development of post-harvest treatments of commodities for export. Heat tolerance research has been completed for nine species. As a result, four PICTs have high temperature forced air units to allow export of treated host fruits, while eight can export specific commodities to New Zealand on a protocol of non-host status.

Accurate information on fruit fly distribution, host plants and economic importance has been disseminated throughout the Pacific region.

Comprehensive status reports on the fruit fly situation were completed for Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Federated States of Micronesia and Fiji.

Information on fruit fly trapping and host fruit survey results have been recorded on databases.


To minimise the impact of fruit flies on food production and food security, trade and the environment, by strengthening national and maintaining regional capacities in fruit fly management

This component will establish ongoing, integrated fruit fly programmes which cover public awareness, quarantine surveillance, emergency response, training, extension and technical support. The programmes will sit within a national public policy framework and be partly resourced nationally. A regional framework will support national programmes.

Outputs and Indicative Activities:

1. Sustainable fruit fly management practices adopted at farm level

In some countries, there has been some success in transferring fruit fly management practices to extension services and to farmers. The result has been that farmers have used an integrated approach to suppress fruit fly populations in those countries. This extension will be more effective with specialised information and extension support from PMP-IES Component 6.

The losses caused by fruit fly infestations will be minimised if farmers use an integrated approach to fruit fly management, including regular on-farm monitoring and surveillance, reporting of incidents, early harvesting, bagging, bait spraying and crop hygiene. Thus by adopting protein bait sprays, which primarily attract female fruit flies, farmers can reduce the total use of pesticides, in turn reducing environmental pollution and increasing public health benefits from lower residues in fruit and vegetables. Moreover, they can bag individual fruit or bunches of fruit, using newspaper or readily available natural materials, so that it is physically enclosed and excludes fruit flies. This practice, alone or in combination with protein bait sprays, substantially reduces fruit fly infestation of food.

Indicative activities

In collaboration with government agricultural advisers and NGOs, undertake on-farm demonstrations of bagging fruits using paper bags and bags made from leaves, especially at the village level.

Demonstrate integrated field control using bagging, destruction of crop residues, protein bait sprays and early harvesting, at the commercial level of production.

In collaboration with breweries in PNG, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, modify brewery waste yeasts to produce usable, inexpensive proteins for fruit fly baits.

Undertake field trials and demonstrations of new protein sources, assessing effectiveness in terms of the extent to which damage caused by fruit flies is reduced.

Assist with the commercialisation of newly-formulated protein baits that are cheaper than imported proteins, with special emphasis in PNG, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands.

2. Enhanced public awareness of fruit flies and their quarantine status

Multimedia campaigns will create public awareness of why quarantine is important in relation to fruit flies and gain public co-operation that is essential to minimise new incursions of fruit fly. Much has been achieved, but efforts must and will continue to achieve greater commitment from national quarantine services. Given that fruit fly is the highest priority pest in the region, fruit fly awareness will spearhead the general quarantine awareness campaigns of SPC-Plant Protection Services, as developed by PMP-IES Component 6.

Indicative activities

In collaboration with quarantine, research and extension services in each PICT, develop or update national and regional pest advisory leaflets on fruit flies, their management and the importance of quarantine. Similarly, develop other public awareness materials, such as videos, audiotapes for radio shows, and posters in collaboration with PMP-IES Component 6.

3. Improved and sustainable systems for national fruit fly surveillance

Much progress has been made in the key area of national fruit fly surveillance. Only a minority of PICTs lack a trap-based surveillance system. Still requiring stronger national commitment are fruit surveys, which are essential but not widely practised. Achievement of national commitment to comprehensive fruit fly surveillance is a high priority. FFM will establish national trapping systems that are permanent and effective, regular fruit surveys for infestation, and national capacity for fruit fly identification that is resourced by national services.

Indicative activities

Co-ordinate and provide advice on how PICT government quarantine staff, extension and research staff, and NGOs maintain permanent quarantine trapping sites, which will function as early warning systems against the spread of damaging species, such as Asian papaya fruit fly, oriental fruit fly and melon fly.

Design a survey system for high-risk fruits and vegetables as part of quarantine surveillance, and ensure that governments and NGOs adopt it.

In the quarantine surveillance system, incorporate regular reviews of quarantine surveillance in all PICTs and sustainable services for fruit fly identification through refresher training workshops, held in conjunction with RTMPP and PPPO meetings.

Monitor trapping and fruit survey programmes in all PICTs via a regular reporting system to SPC using email or fax and visiting selected countries.

4. Increased regional and national preparedness to respond to fruit fly incursions

The establishment of permanent surveillance systems, together with a real commitment to them, is essential if PICTs are to be prepared to eradicate or suppress fruit flies. All PICTs will establish national emergency response plans (ERPs) that are regularly updated. These arrangements will include regular simulation exercises.

Indicative activities

Based on need, formulate or review ERPs, in collaboration with national staff.

Maintain centrally stocks of chemicals, lures, traps, fibreboard blocks, and plastic containers for emergency use in the event of an outbreak of an exotic fruit fly.

Provide advice to PICTs on emergency responses and eradication campaigns, where necessary.

5. Coordinated regional management of fruit flies

Economies of scale and interdependence of PICTs dictate that national fruit fly management be co-ordinated regionally if production losses and trade are to be facilitated cost effectively. Good progress has already been made in both national and regional management. However, sustainability is the key requirement in this outcome. Maintaining ownership through ongoing action of the Steering Committee is important. Monitoring national laboratory facilities for their effectiveness in essential fruit fly work is a priority. A continuing focus will be the fruit fly situation in Papua New Guinea, which is logistically and biologically complex but for which much has been achieved already. In addition, SPC-Plant Protection Service will provide continuing support in sustaining the regional oversight of fruit fly management.


More particularly, a regional programme will provide a mechanism for technical support, co-ordination, monitoring and consultation. This broad programme will help to maintain, integrate and manage national fruit fly programmes. In terms of inputs under the proposed project, the services of the Entomologist (Fruit Flies) would need to be maintained until June 2002. The current Assistant Entomologist (under the RMFFP) will become the Co-ordinator (Fruit Fly Management) from January 2001. Financial and technical support will continue to be provided to the three Junior Scientific Officers (JSOs) in PNG and the Scientific Officer (SOs) in Solomon Islands until December 2002.

Indicative activities

Provide technical support on fruit fly management to PICTs.

Continue annual consultative meetings of a Steering Committee to advise FFM on programmes.

Review FFM in November 2000 and annually thereafter, to determine progress and levels of sustainability at national and regional levels.

6. Systems to fulfill negotiated trade protocols established nationally

Trade in the Pacific has been facilitated by the fruit fly project activities. In particular, achievements in national heat tolerance work and fruit fly distribution mapping have contributed to this outcome. Building on these achievements, the work to follow will extend to a wider range of potential exports and fruit fly species, focusing on acceptance by destination countries of generic heat treatments and non-host status criteria for trade. If the trade gains are to be sustainable, it is necessary to develop national capacity in technical submissions for trade negotiation.

PICTs will receive resources and technical assistance to develop quarantine treatments for exportable commodities. It will involve, for example, studies of heat tolerance of fruit fly larvae and eggs in different commodities. Another useful area of study will be non-host status (i.e. when none of the fruit flies on the national list has the capacity to infest the commodity), as a non-host commodity poses no quarantine risk to a trade destination country and so it will not require quarantine treatment prior to export. There will also be assistance in making technical submissions to potential importers – such as New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and Japan – in order to facilitate trade in fresh commodities.

Indicative activities

Establish and maintain laboratory colonies of fruit fly species that have been previously unstudied yet are economically important, in the laboratories in Kerevat, Bubia and Laloki in PNG.

Study development rates of immature stages of fruit fly in fruits and artificial diets.

Complete data collection on heat tolerance of eggs and larvae of about 10 species of fruit fly that are distributed for study across the three laboratories at Kerevat, Bubia and Laloki.

Maintain laboratory colonies of B. umbrosa and D. solomonensis in Solomon Islands and B. frauenfeldi and B. umbrosa in Palau, and study their development rates at immature stages in fruits and in artificial diets.

Generate data on heat tolerances of a range of species and compile reports to submit to countries that are potential importers.

Assist in negotiations with Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Japan on the development of quarantine treatments for fresh commodities.