Israel, Palestinian Authority and Jordan team with UN to fight medfly infestation
Annual losses from medflies in the region had totalled $300 million, despite pesticide use, as the female insects pierced ripening fruits and vegetables and laid eggs in them. Farm exports from infested areas were also banned from key world markets, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The IAEA and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) helped set up the pilot projects, supplying male medflies treated in Guatemala by a radiation technology called the sterile insect technique (SIT) to Israel and Jordan from 1998. The Palestinian Authority joined the programme in 1999. As many as 15 million sterile male medflies were let loose each week.
Bell pepper exports from Israel's Arava Valley have risen to $50 million per year from $1 million over the seven years of the programme and a private company has opened a sterile medfly rearing facility in Israel, IAEA said.
The programme has been expanded to Israel's Western Negev, it added.