BY LYNTON AARON FILIA
THE Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Ltd (GPPOL) has been stepping up to fight against the invasive Coconut Rhino Beetle (CRB).
On Tuesday 9 October, Island Sun joined other media organizations in the country for a field visit to get firsthand information about the status of CRB attacks towards palm trees.
At the moment, GPPOL has been taking initiative to kill and burn the CRB. They also employ people to concentrate only on fighting CRB.
An activity conducted includes chemicals, cleaning up and destroying of the breeding sites by excavator; the beetles love piles of rotten vegetation especially dead, decaying, palms.
Currently GPPOL 2800 palm trees had been chopped down because they were infested with the CRB. 3800 palms will be chopped down soon. This covers about 325 hectares.
Following that, 14 hectares was already replanted with another 3,800 palm ready for replanting.
GPPOL’s Manager for Technical Service Department Alfred Pokana said their challenge for controlling CRB is people turns to spoil its traps.
He said they have been installing one trap per two hectares in the fields but people will always spoiled it which is difficult for to catch beetle.
Pokana said their goal is to reduce the population of CRB.
“This is the first time GPPOL has experienced such a situation. One thing about this pest, we did not have any experience to deal with, so it takes us by surprise,” he said.
Besides, Pokana explained that currently their activities for reducing CRB’s population is mainly on sanitation and it is really effective.
“Our activities are mainly on sanitation in trying to damage their breeding sites, going through the rubbish and looking for larvae and adult beetle,” he said.
GPPOL Operating Manager Mohamad Azahar Saat adds that dealing with CRB is relatively new for them but there has been good sign of recoveries of their palm trees.
He said their challenge is that they are not scientist but planters. He said the way forward is to look at alternatives such as chemicals, virus and destroying breeding sites.
However, Saat said there should be a wider awareness carried out to coconut plantation farmers as well.
“So as treatment is taken, beetle flee outside the boundary and feed from the coconuts then will return that is why we need to work with farmers, government and other stakeholders in the country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the media team also visited the Biosecurity lab at the Henderson Airport, and discovered Solomon Islands Biosecurity has been testing for virus in the CRB.