Published: Tuesday 30 April 1996

A sustained 30-year old battle has resulted in the tired but indefatigable Chileans claiming a resounding victory over the Mediterranean fruitfly which caused so much damage to the Chilean economy. The consequences of the fruitfly's menace led to other nations boycotting Chilean agricultural produce.

The Chilean war included such tactics as spraying pesticides like malathion and also confiscating all organic material entering the country. Inspections at the end of 1995 revealed that all regions of Chile, except for the one in the extreme north, were rid of the fly. Christened Medfly and considered to be the world's most dreaded agricultural - pest, it lays eggs inside fruits and vegetables, forcing them to rot.

Chile's agricultural exports, which are now worth us $1 billion, could go up by us $500 million by the end of the decade. The nation could now export apples, grapes, avocados, kiwis and other fruits. "By freeing ourselves of this plague, our country has overcome a major barrier to our fruit exports," said Emiliano R Otega, Chile's agriculture minister. Scientists, however, caution that the Medfly is known to resurface after an absence, and that ,the campaign for its eradication should be continued to prevent its resurgence.

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