Biosecurity teams mobilise against coconut rhinoceros beetle

An example of a coconut tree ruined by the beetle

The biosecurity department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock is sending teams to several islands to confirm and contain the spread of the coconut rhinoceros beetle.

A biosecurity team was deployed to Tulagi in Central Province last week, and teams will soon be sent to Choiseul, the Shortland Islands and Savo to verify recent reports that the beetle is present there.

Quarantine Division Director Francis Tsatsia said if the reports prove to be true, the teams will focus on containment of the beetle.

“At the same time, they will try to apply the biological control methods,” he said. “We use two bioagents: virus and fungus.”

Coconut rhinoceros beetles damage palms by boring into the crown of the tree to feed on the sap.

As coconuts are an important crop for Solomon Islands in terms of local consumption and export, and palm oil also provides a significant revenue stream, many groups and businesses in the country’s coconut and palm industries consider the beetle a serious threat.

By Fred Osifelo

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