RWANDA – Kigali city is facing a significant shortage of mangoes due to the relentless assault of pests known as ‘mealybugs’.

These tiny invaders have wreaked havoc on mango crops, leading to soaring prices and dwindling supplies across local markets.

According to reports from vendors, the cost of mangoes has skyrocketed from Rwf700 to between Rwf1200 (USD 0.93) and Rwf1500 (USD 1.16) per fruit. This sharp increase has left shelves bare and consumers disappointed as they struggle to find their favorite fruit.

Farmers are bearing the brunt of the crisis, with many reporting complete losses of their mango harvests. Bonifride Mukarurayi, a farmer from Bugesera District, expressed concerns about the situation, stating that they are considering alternative fruit trees due to the dire mango yield.

The Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) has issued a call to action for farmers to adopt preventive measures against the pests. These measures include cultivating pest-resistant mango varieties, pruning, pesticide spraying, and soil maintenance.

Athanase Hategekimana, a leading scientist in crop disease and pest management, highlighted ongoing research into innovative solutions such as the introduction of parasitoids to control mealybug populations.

In response to the crisis, Rwanda has implemented a biosafety law aimed at regulating genetically modified crops (GMOs) that could potentially offer long-term solutions to pest infestations in agriculture.

Aside from pest-related challenges, Rwanda also faces significant postharvest losses of mango fruit, exacerbating the shortage.

The lack of processing facilities further complicates the situation, limiting value addition and extending shelf life.

To address these issues, the government has collaborated with the private sector to establish manufacturing facilities aimed at utilizing mangoes for various products.

Additionally, regional projects like the Mango Mealybug Management Project aim to mitigate mango production losses through collective efforts with neighboring countries.

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