BY BEN BILUA
CHAIRMAN of the North West Guadalcanal Subsistence Farmers Association (NWGSFA), Bernard Garo has rubbished reports of Rhinoceros beetle eating noni fruits, describing it to be unfounded and misleading.
He made the statement in response to a report in the Solomon Star which reported that Rhinoceros beetle is attacking the noni industry on Guadalcanal.
In an interview with this paper yesterday, Mr Garo said the report goes beyond common sense so as scientific understanding and that it needs to be scrutinised.
He said as a farmer himself, with over 15,000 Noni plants in his farm, at no stage has he spotted or sighted the Rhinoceros Beetle eating noni fruits, since he went into noni farming, three years ago.
“I have over 15,000 noni plants that are close to my old coconut plantations, which the beetle has already destroyed, but I have not seen any beetle invaded my noni plantation. I have Rhinoceros flying around my farm but as I’ve said, not at one stage have I seen this beetle eating my noni fruits,” Garo said.
“I know and have seen the betel attack coconuts, palm oil and sego palm but not noni,” he adds.
Garo fears that the report is only intended to scam money from the government while at the same time ruin farmers’ efforts to promote the noni industry in the country.
“I’m dumbfounded at this propaganda, as there is no scientific proof that the Rhinoceros beetle can eat noni fruit.
“I want to believe that this is an act that has some intentions. What if the photos were staged or the Rhinoceros beetle was just resting on the fruit?” he said.
Garo went to say that Mr Simon Chottu should have consulted the Ministry of Agriculture for explanation before going into the media as such report can tarnish the image of the country’s noni industry at the international market.
Garo is worried because this news in the Solomon Star is causing confusion to their noni farmers, and have been calling him for confirmation on the so-called report.
Mrs Mary Korina who owns 1,500 noni trees at Bonege, Mrs Regina Levi who owns 500 noni plants at Betikama, Mr Stanley Bogese who owns 1,500 noni plants at Chapuru area and Mr John Brobee Sugar Jnr who owns 2,000 noni plants at NGalidava area, all shared similar sentiments saying that at no stage have they seen the Rhinoceros Beetle eat their noni plants and fruits, since they entered into noni farming three years ago.
“No such thing has happened to our farms to date,” the farmers said.
Seeing that the report had also put Northwest Guadalcanal constituency under the spotlight, Constituency Development Officer, Junior Suga shared that he was also feeling the pressure of this report as people have been calling his office about it.
He said these concerned people are not just noni farmers, but are also constituents of the Northwest Guadalcanal constituency, and it is worrying that Solomon Star has allowed for such a misleading report to be published when it has no scientific data or statistics to prove its claim.
“As CDO, constituent/farmers have called me about the report and have also confirmed that the rhino beetle is true to have destroyed a lot of their palm plantations, which includes beetle nut palm, coconut, sego palm and other palm trees, but are surprised with the report, adding that they too have not seen any invasion of the beetle on their noni plantations.
Suga said their people have expressed these worries over the report because if true, the initiative created by their Member of Parliament with the noni industry might end, causing a huge setback on what many of them have described as a blessing of an opportunity to earn easy money.
When contacted yesterday, an officer within the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock explained that such report needs to be verified before going into the media.
The officer adds that Rhinoceros beetles only feed on palm trees and soft palm for their nectars and not on fruits that have ripened.
“From scientific research, this pest feed on palms like coconut, palm oil, sago palm, betel nuts and other related plants, but no mentions of noni,” the officer said.