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Temotu government tackles rhinoceros beetle before it spreads further in province

A similar story everywhere, not only in the country but worldwide – many once-prioritised problems are overshadowed and left to fester by covid-19 and are now giving cause for alarm.

For Temotu province, amid its activities in preparation for any potential entry by covid-19, its government is quelling the Rhinoceros Beetle, the highly devastative palm pest.

Temotu provincial government recognises that while most of its efforts are directed against covid-19, it must also address the Coconut rhinoceros beetle threat that is already present and growing in Temotu.

In a media statement yesterday, the Temotu Provincial Executive said it passed resolutions to prevent further spread of Rhinoceros Beetle following confirmation of its presence in the province.

Biosecurity officials of the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock (MAL) last week confirmed that two islands in the province, Vanikoro and Neo have been invaded by Rhinoceros Beetle. Preliminary findings revealed Vanikoro is almost covered by the beetle except a few areas like Buma Island, Peu and lavaka area

On Neo island report revealed it started on the centre of the island and is now moving down to coastal areas including Neo village.

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“If there is nothing done now, it will continue to spread with a devastating effect on coconut plantations in these two islands and is a great threat to other islands in the province,” the province’s Executive said.

According to the MAL team, they have advised members of the communities to chop down any affected coconut in the villages and promised to return to the islands in four months’ time. When asked why four months? They explained that samples taken will be sent overseas to identify the beetle type so that appropriate eradication measures can be applied, and it takes that long to receive results.

But Temotu provincial feels this is too long to wait and if nothing is done now, the whole islands may be covered including other islands in the province.

For this reason, the TUGRA executive government is not just waiting for the national government but is putting Temporary Preventative Measures to contain the spread of the beetle until the return of the Ministry to eradicate the dangerous beetle.

On Thursday, October 22, 2020, the provincial executive passed the following nine point resolution as temporary preventative measures in their effort to contain the spread of the beetle in the province;

  1. All planting materials from the two confirmed rhinoceros beetle invaded islands of Vanikoro and neo is hereby prohibited to be taken to any other islands in Temotu Province
  2. Prohibited planting materials includes commercial plants, botanical plants, floral plants, cosmetic plants, medicinal plants, edible root crops and fruit trees and any such other flora from the two islands including Honiara
  3. All edible fresh root crops, fruits and vegetables from Vanikoro and Neo islands are restricted items and are not allowed to be taken to any other islands in the province unless properly washed, cleaned and cooked
  4. TPG to work closely with the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock to determine facts surrounding the importation of the beetle to Temotu Province and to take appropriate actions
  5. TPG to ensure the Ministry of Agriculture & Livestock to fast track support to help eradicate the Rhinoceros beetle from the province.
  6. All local and international boats especially logging ships can only leave port of call from Vanikoro and Santa Cruz between 6am to 5pm each day, including all ships departing Honiara ports to Temotu Province
  7. Any planting materials found to have been taken from these two islands to other islands will be confiscated and destroyed as soon as they are collected by the authorities
  8. All authorities shall include provincial government, NGOs, churches, education officials, agriculture extension officers, health officers, chiefs and village leaders. All are hereby authorized to support implementation of this TPM and help prevent the spread of the beetle by prohibiting the movement of plant materials specified in points 1.2 & 1.3 above
  9. The enforcement of these resolutions commences today, October 22, 2020

In endorsing the resolution, the provincial executive is seeking help from national government including the Marine Division of the MID to help prevent any ship destine to Temotu Province not to leave Honiara at night and to prevent any planting materials to be taken on board the ships.

The province is seeking support to help supply of cutting equipments to help the provincial agriculture team to cut affected coconut palms. Supply of chain saws and fuel is needed to cut the palms and local investors especially logging companies in the province is called to help in this effort.

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