Egypt is an important exporter of horticultural crops such as green beans, sweet pepper, tomatoes, strawberries and cucumbers. Markets are increasingly demanding concerning the residues of plant protection products (PPP’s). Import of horticultural products is regularly rejected because of high residue levels. To reduce this risk it is necessary that Egyptian growers apply less pesticides through spraying on the basis of monitoring and thresholds, by better application techniques and by biological control.
Biological control and availability
An important bottleneck in the introduction of biological control in Egypt is the limited availability of natural enemies. For sweet pepper only the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimilis against red spider mite is available. As there are no enemies commercially available for pests such as aphids, whitefly and trips, chemical pesticides have to be applied for their control. Because the use of these pesticides has is detrimental to biological control, the availability of natural enemies for more pests and selective pesticides is required. Up to now the importation of natural enemies is not permitted.
Importation of natural enemies for Egyptian horticulture
A conference in Cairo was organized in February by the Egyptian Horticultural Export Improvement Association (HEIA) to solve this bottleneck, which was attended by leaders of research institutes, HEIA representatives and growers. Rob Meijer, researcher of Wageningen UR Greenhouse Horticulture and Dr Sherif Hassan from JKI in Darmstadt gave presentations on the need for IPM and biological control, potential side effects for indigenous fauna and safe and responsible introductions. Afterwards, experts from science and industry drafted a new regulation on the use and importation of natural enemies. This draft is being presented to the minister of Agriculture.
It is hoped that this draft will result in a ministerial decree, enabling the importation and production of natural enemies for Egyptian horticulture, and enabling growers to better fulfil the demands of the international markets.