Nairobi – Rose flower growers and exporters have been urged to put measures in place to mitigate against the False Coddling Moth (FCM) in order to retain and expand the lucrative European Union (EU) market. In January 2018, the pest FCM (Thaumatotibia leucotreta) was listed as a regulated quarantine pest in the EU following a pest risk assessment which indicated that it can establish in EU member states with economic consequences thus requiring intervention. FCM is listed in Annex II of EU regulation 2019/2072 among the quarantine pests of the EU. The presence of FCM egg, larvae and adult in a consignment of rose cut flowers will lead to interception and notification of non-compliance to Kenya, hence the need to manage its risk carefully.
The online meeting, between KEPHIS and key stakeholders comprising the Kenya Flower Council, Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) and over 170 exporters was to collectively agree on measures to take to safeguard the market.
While opening the meeting, KEPHIS MD Prof. Theophilus Mutui reiterated that the exporters needed to comply with requirements so as to maintain the market. “The EU is the leading importer of our roses, and there have been changes in market requirements leading to non-conformities,” he stated.
One hundred percent of roses in Kenya are grown in greenhouses and are currently at 5%-10% inspection at the importing countries; but this could increase if measures are not taken to address increased interceptions due to FCM.
The online meeting for producers, growers and exporters of roses that sought to address increased interceptions at the European Union market due to the False Coddling Moth. Participants were urged that mitigation controls were extremely important at the farm level.
As a mitigation measure, KEPHIS together with the industry umbrella body (KFC, FPEAK and FPC) developed an FCM management protocol which is envisaged to guide the management of the pest and reduce non compliances due to FCM.
The CEO of the Kenya Flower Council Mr. Clement Tulezi stated that the solution to mitigating the FCM is at the farm level. “Ninety-five percent of the solution is mitigating the pest at the farm,” he said. “Also, if there are any repercussions, they will affect everyone in the flower industry,” he added.
Mr. Richard Fox emphasized, “Control the pest at the farm, not the pack house or greenhouse”.
Other measures include conducting a root cause analysis to find out the gaps existing at the farm, purchasing correct pheromone traps or lures from authorized dealers for biological controls and having scouts to look out for the pests at farms. The correct data given by the scout is very important in the management of the pest.
“One pest is easy to manage but many of them become a problem,” said Dr Esther Kimani, MD of PCPB.
On the way forward, members came up with the following measures:
1. Enhancing the greenhouse production facilities
2. Enhancing FCM management at the places of production
3. Handling of interceptions due to FCM
4. Kill step to be applied
5. Sharing of FCM data
6. Peer training of farms with repeated interceptions
7. Capacity building
8. Fumigation using phosphine gas
While closing the meeting, Prof. Mutui urged the participants to implement the measures required to meet market requirements in order to reduce the chances of stringent measures being preferred on Kenyan cut flowers in the EU market.