TWO TANZANIAN ISLANDS DECLARED FREE OF TSETSE FLY

DAR-ES-SALAAM, Unguja and Pemba, the two biggest islands in Tanzania's Zanzibar Archicelago, are among pioneers in the successful implementation of a new technology using radiation to eradicate the tsetse fly, a livestock killing vector.

The African Chapter for Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM) made available here through its South Africa- based Press Secretary, Ryan Collyer, says tsetse flies have been killing more than three million livestock in sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania included, but the islands have already been declared a Tsetse fly-free area.

Tanzania, with about 21.3 million head of cattle, 15.2 million goats and 6.4 million sheep, or about 43 million head of livestock in all, ranks third in Africa after Sudan and Ethiopia in having the highest number of reared animals on the continent. All these animals are being threatened by tsetse flies.

For decades, African nations have suffered the devastating consequences caused by the tsetse fly. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (GAO), the bloodsucking insects kill more than three million head of livestock in sub-Saharan Africa every year, causing losses amounting to 4.0 billion US dollars annually, Collyer says.

According to the ROSATOM report, during the last ten years the situation has drastically improved, because scientists have discovered an effective remedy using radiation.

With the help of nuclear technologies, African countries are now winning the battle against the livestock menacing flies. The Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar were among pioneers to successfully use radiation against the tsetse fly, reads part of the report, adding that the isles are now proper areas for breeding dairy cattle should anyone feel like making highly paying investments in the archipelago.

That is done through the nuclear-based sterile insect technique (SIT) which has played a fundamental role in achieving the total eradication of the tsetse fly population. SIT is a form of insect pest control which involves the mass-breeding and sterilisation of male tsetse flies using ionising radiation in special rearing facilities.

The sterile males are released systematically from the ground or by air in tsetse infested areas, where they mate with wild females, which do not subsequently produce offspring. Scientists believe that the results of nuclear technique employment are incredibly effective and thus through the eradication of the tsetse fly, socio-economic conditions have dramatically improved.

Since 2014, socio-economic studies have shown that the total number of all cattle breeds have increased by roughly 38 per cent. These figures are truly impressive, as most rural households earn more than 20 per cent of their total income from the livestock business.

According to the report, milk production has nearly doubled from 4.6 to 10 litres per cattle per day, after the introduction of nuclear-based techniques. Radiation has proved to be an effective solution for the eradication of many infectious insects on almost every continent.

SIT has been applied to hundreds of species of fruit flies, moths, mosquitoes and screw-worm flies. By implementing the same methods, Senegal has in four years declared some of its regions totally tsetse free. Ethiopia has also chosen this option, which has already helped to bring down the fly population by 90 per cent.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK