Barriers and facilitators of area-wide management including sterile insect technique application: The example of Queensland fruit fly

Mankad, A., Loechel, B., and Measham, P. F.,  AREA-WIDE INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT: Development and Field Application,  2021.

The area-wide management (AWM) of highly mobile insect pests such as tephritid fruit flies requires an integrated understanding of technical, social and institutional processes that drive a coordinated approach within a defined area. Furthermore, the success of an AWM programme is dependent upon the coordinated efforts of key stakeholders within the designated area (e.g. growers, community members). Yet, public views regarding AWM may not reflect those views held by scientists or stakeholders. Public considerations for acceptance are likely varied and multidimensional. A series of qualitative (phases 1-2) and quantitative (phase 3) studies examined stakeholder and community attitudes towards AWM to manage Queensland fruit fly Bactrocera tryoni (Froggatt) (Tephritidae) and the novel use of the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) as a possible component of AWM. Research was conducted over three regions of varying pest prevalence, ranging from zero to endemic; participants included growers, extension officers, industry and government representatives, and members of the general public. Participants in this research were asked to consider potential barriers and facilitators to the widespread uptake of AWM integrating the SIT, including any relevant institutional-level factors. Combined data revealed potential social barriers to AWM and SIT uptake. Most notably, there were perceptions of low efficacy in successfully coordinating key social groups for the purposes of an AW-IPM approach, and a concern for the possibility of ‘free-riders’ within an areawide system. On the other hand, innovation complexity and observability of outcomes were important factors contributing to acceptance of AWM. Importantly, all participants were influenced by the attitudes and behaviours of important others. Participants also identified key facilitators that could assist in the uptake of AWM using the SIT. These facilitators include the importance of trustworthy information sources and harnessing the persuasive influence of community champions and central packing houses on commercial growers. Overall, there was high stated acceptance for the SIT, both on-farm and in towns, as long as SIT application was found to be economically feasible at individual farm or household level and the community was adequately consulted.

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