BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
THERE are two large gaps needing rapid and thorough response if Solomon Islands is to avoid a huge disaster from Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle’s (CRB’s).
One is the need for immediate action to raise awareness’s throughout the country of CRB’s threat seriousness and ways to slow its spread. Secondly is to work with communities to eliminate breeding sites and control the pest in areas already invaded.
Both these tasks are outside the capacity of the current Government or Provincial Staff and finances. It was agreed during a recent meeting by the New Zealand aid project (AgResearch) of “Improving Management of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) in Solomon Islands and PNG that emergency funding based on new action plans is urgently needed to get the activities implemented quickly on the scale needed.
Continuous attack by CRB’s will affect the Oil Palm and Coconut productions of Solomon Islands.
According to Bob Macfarlane the Coordinator of the CRB programme in Solomon Islands last week, hundreds of coconut and oil palm trees in the country have already been killed by CRB attacks.
“The beetle from report has already spread along the north coast of Guadalcanal and has invaded north Malaita, Savo and Ngella,” said Macfarlane.
“Currently the worst effects can be seen around Honiara but if the beetle gets to village coconut plantations, the impacts on copra production and village nutrition will be huge reported.”
It is understood according to the AgResearch meeting that plans for a long-term solution to develop control techniques using new insect diseases are well advanced.
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL) Director for Quarantine Bio-security Mr Francis Tsatsia when recently speaking to Island Sun said their Officers are yet waiting for the National Government Budget to be passed in order to help them financially in addressing the CRB threat.
“We have already submitted our budget to the Treasury on the plan of our CRB activities but it is the process for approval at the National Government is what we are waiting for,” said Tsatsia.
Recently, a call was made by local copra producers, farmers and communities around Ngella for the MAL Bio-Security Office and Agriculture Division at Tulaghi to assist them in clearing the CRB threat.
From Ngella locals report, it is not only coconut trees that are affected but betel nut and sago palm trees as well.