They are calling it a “species jump”, and are concerned that East Africa’s horticulture could experience a tremendous crisis with fruit, vegetable, medicinal, and ornamental crops being affected.
The Black Coffee Twig Borer has recently been discovered by researchers in Uganda, and they are saying that it crossed over from Robusta coffee crops and has infected about 40 different other plant species, including tomatoes, cocoa, eggplant, guava, jackfruit, ginger, avocados, and mangoes. The researchers are also expecting it to cross over to tea, a big crop in East Africa. A researcher for Coffee Research Center (COREC), Godfrey Kagezi, states:
“It has been reported in many countries in Africa, including Kenya and northern Tanzania, which are already highly infested.”
The pest was first reported in Uganda in 1993, but recent reports show it has been rapidly spreading. It also shows within the research that over 40 plant species, from 17 different families, have become hosts for the borer.
The pest originated in Asia, and has slowly spread across the world. When the borer infests a coffee plant, it destroys 90% of the plant. Same goes for fruits and vegetables. Some scientists are saying that the recent climate change could be responsible for the increase of spread and for the species jump. Patrick Kucel who works for COREC says that once it spreads, it’s hard to control due to the high reproductive ability: the female can reproduce sexually and asexually, often bearing 20 offspring per week.