BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
IT is reported that 90 percent of palm trees in Honiara are already damaged or dead because of the invasive Coconut Rhino Beetles (CRB),
Acting Permanent Secretary for Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL), Mr Oswald Ramo said, over the last four years, 90 percent of the palms in Honiara area have been severely damaged or dead and this devastation is cause by CRB.
Ramo said this figure shows it is a serious matter and a challenging one for MAL and key stakeholders. He said they need strong collaboration from everyone in the country to eradicate the rhino beetles.
He adds, ‘Incursion of foreign pests into the Solomon Islands is a serious concern for our biosecurity teams under the increasing pressure from global trade and climate change.”
He also adds that currently MAL and other leading organizations are working on a project with clean-up campaign targeting the CRB larvae, remove dead palm trees and to destroy breeding sites.
On this matter, Ramo called for a unified and well-resourced response from responsible authorities, stakeholders, farmers and communities to fight the rhino beetle to save our palm trees.
Director for Pacific Community (SPC) Land Resources Division, Dr Jan Helsen said, “SPC is playing a regional role by supporting Pacific Island Countries and Territories.”
Helsen said their program aims to develop emergency response plans in the event of an incursion and assist to strengthening the biosecurity pathways that could be entry points for CRB.
“There is no ‘silver bullet’ solution to removing the threat of CRB, but using every means possible to halt its spread is critical to ensuring the threat is managed,” Dr Helsen said.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is providing $NZ 1 million (approx. SBD5.4m) to support a project targeting the full eradication of rhino beetles in Solomon Islands.
New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs has been working closely with MAL, SPC, CRB National Taskforce, Strongim Bisnis, GPPOL, Kastom Gaden and PHAMA.