Rural Farmers calls for regular monitoring of invasive pests

Rural Farmers has called on the government to re-establish Agriculture sub-stations across the country to keep track on Agriculture activities, as well as to monitor the spread of invasive pests like Giant African snail and coconut rhinoceros beetle.

Trunk of a coconut tree destroyed by the beetle in West Guadalcanal

The farmers made the call during a three days workshop held at the Kokonat Pacific compound last week.

Association members expressed their fears over the invasion of Coconut Rhinoceros beetles into the coconut industry.

One of the farmers, Gideon Rurubesi of North Malaita, says, the government needs to be serious in addressing the issue as the beetle is threatening people’s livelihood.

“Coconut is very much part of  rural peoples livelihood, from household uses to commercial copra and milling. The threat posed by this beetle is huge and the government must step in as soon as possible to stop its further spread.

Government officers needs to be centered in substations to monitor this threat.”

Coconut plantation in Central Guadalcanal Destroyed by the beetle

Kokonat Pacific Managing Director Bob Pollard says, the beetle is a serious threat to the coconut industry.

He says, his company is ready to work with the government to address the issue.

“The beetle is a serious threat to the industry. fortunately, it does not reach all provinces as yet. We only wait to support the government in any measures taken to curb its spread.”

In a recent tour to the parts of Central Guadalcanal, farmers also shared their concern over the deadly pest.

Among these farmers is Jacobeth Maneiria of Malatoha in Central Guadalcanal.

“The government needs to re-establish substations and bridge the gap between the people and the government.”

Meanwhile, Paramount Chief of Bahomea Peter Rocky says, it is sad to see that the beetle has invaded his coconut plantations in the past years.

“I have diverted my attention to cocoa farming now due to the fact that my plantations were completely destroyed now. I am thinking of replanting, but that depends if the spread cuts down.”

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock which already lost the battle against the Giant African snail is currently working with development partners to fight against the Coconut Rhinoceros beetle.

The beetle currently reached few provinces including the Rennell and Bellona atolls which depend very much on coconut for livelihood.

Coconut industry is among the largest revenue earner to the Solomon Islands.

by Charley Piringi

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