THE National government has declared the invasive Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) as an emergency pest as it steps up its fight against the beetle that has killed more than half the population of coconuts in Honiara and nearby Guadalcanal.

Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock – Director of Biosecurity, Francis Tsastia announced this on Friday.

He said it has been gazetted and signed this week by the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) that Coconut Rhinoceros Beetles (CRB) is now an emergency pest.

“CRB now is an emergency pest in Honiara and Guadalcanal, that triggers a lot of things, resources is one of the issues because once it’s an emergency requires implementation of control measures

“It’s good because it provides us a strong backing to request for funding from the government, we could now liaise with the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) according to a provision of the Biosecurity Act.”

Speaking during the information sharing session day with the media on Friday, Mr Tsatsia said the Act provides the provisions to support eradication of CRB.

Since 2015 Biosecurity Solomon Islands has taken several actions in the fight against the invasive beetle.

A fungus expert was here in early July 2016 but due to financial hold-ups within the Solomon Islands Government much needed laboratory supplies could not be shifted here.

“The expert is working with Biosecurity Solomon Islands staff to transfer the skills needed to produce large quantities of the fungus needed to infect breeding sites.”

In the second half of July 2016, a virus expert arrived in the country, and has brought in several strains of the only virus known to work against this beetle.

“This will be tested against the CRB-G strain present here in the hope that one will be effective against it,” said the Biosecurity Solomon Islands.

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