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For Immediate Release: August 2, 2004


HONOLULU - Top agriculture officials from the U.S., Guatemala and Mexico are meeting in Honolulu this week to review the Moscamed Program, an international program to eradicate fruit flies from Central America.  (Moscamed is Spanish for Mediterranean Fruit Fly). The meetings also include Hawaii agriculture officials who are involved with Hawaii's highly successful fruit fly suppression program.  The agenda includes exchange of information and technologies in the battle against fruit flies, which are some of the most destructive agricultural pest and one of the main reasons why Hawaii fruits and vegetables are not exported.

The delegation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is headed by Undersecretary William T. Hawks, who became familiar with the Hawaii program during a previous visit in December 2003.  He is accompanied by USDA officials from Washington, D.C., Maryland, North Carolina, Colorado, Mexico City and Guatemala City.  The Guatemala delegation is headed by Alvaro Aguilar, Minister of Agriculture and the Mexican delegation is headed by Javier Trujillo, Sub Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture.

"When I met with Secretary Hawks in Washington, D.C., as well as during his visit seven months ago, he expressed a genuine interest in helping Hawaii agriculture," said Governor Linda Lingle. "By leading a delegation of top U.S. and international agriculture officials to Hawaii to exchange information and technologies in the fight against Hawaii's most devastating agricultural pests, he has demonstrated his philosophy of 'working together works.'"

Governor Lingle will briefly address the officials on Tuesday, August 2.  Media are invited to attend the Governor's welcome address. Media interested in attending the Governor's remarks should call Janelle Saneishi, HDOA Public Information Officer at 973-9560. (The working sessions are closed to the public.)

Secretary Hawks visited Oahu and the Big Island in December 2003 and became familiar with the unique opportunities and challenges facing Hawaii agriculture.  Immediately after his visit, Hawks arranged for the Chairperson of HDOA, Sandra Lee Kunimoto, to visit USDA facilities in Guatemala, which are part of the international Moscamed Program. 

"It was not so long ago that it was a widely accepted fact that Hawaii would never be able to eradicate fruit flies and that exporting our crops would always be hampered by quarantine requirements," said Kunimoto.  "But now, with the cooperative work being done by federal, state and university agriculture personnel, the possibility of eradication in agricultural areas is real."

Hawaii has several species of fruit flies; including the Mediterranean, Oriental, melon and Malaysian fruit flies, which have caused the state to be under a federal fruit fly quarantine for more than 50 years.  Consequently, Hawaii is not allowed to export most fresh fruits and vegetables to the U.S. mainland and most foreign markets unless subjected to quarantine treatment.

In 2000, USDA Agricultural Research Service funded and established the Hawaii Area-Wide Integrated Pest Management Program, which involved USDA, HDOA and the University of Hawaii's College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR).  The program uses population monitoring, field sanitation, insecticide bait sprays and stations and attracting and killing male fruit flies.  USDA has dedicated $2 million dollars per year for the next two years to continue the Hawaii program.

The program has made a dramatic impact in reducing damage caused by fruit flies.  When the program was implemented at Aloun Farms, on Oahu, damage from melon fly infestation was reduced from about 50 percent to less than one percent of the melon crop.  In Kula, Maui, melon fly damage was reduced from more than 40 percent of the crop to less than five percent.  In Waimea on the Big Island, farmers there were able to grow zucchini, a crop that was not viable previously due to extensive fruit fly damage. More than 270 farms on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island that have implemented the methods of the program.

In 2004, the Hawaii Area-Wide Integrated Pest Management Program won several national awards, including:

Ø       Federal Laboratory Consortium Award for Excellence in Technology Transfer, 2004

Ø       Entomological Society of America Pacific Basin Branch Award for Integrated Pest Management, 2004

Ø       USDA Agricultural Research Service Honors Award, 2004.


For more information, contact:

Janelle Saneishi
Public Information Officer
Hawaii Department of Agriculture
Phone: (808) 973-9560
[email protected]