General Manager of Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited (GPPOL) Craig Gibsone uttered this as the beetle continues to spread around Guadalcanal and into Malaita and Central provinces.
In the last three months, Gibsone said, up to 6,000 oil palm trees from their plantation in Guadalcanal had been destroyed by the beetles.
“We are doing all we can do as a company but the fight to curtail this pest requires the combined effort of everyone,” Gibsone stated.
He was speaking during the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle field day organised by his company, together with the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Kokonut Pacific Solomon Islands (KPSI), Thursday.
“The magnitude of threat the beetle poses to our coconut and oil palm industries cannot be under-estimated.
“It is real and serious.
“It has the potential to destroy between $300 million and $400 million in annual export receipts from the coconut and oil palm industries,” Gibsone stated.
“These two industries provide employment and a steady income for thousands of Solomon islanders and their families.
“Furthermore, the coconut industry is a very important food source in the country and contributes to our food security.”
Gibsone said if recent history is any indication, the current rate at which thebeetleis spreading is likely to cover the whole country and otherPacific countries before we realise it.
“The eradication of the beetle is now virtually impossible if it is left for one company or organisation to do.
“If we are to see any successes in our eradication effort, it has to be a combined effort from every one – companies, government, donors, and people.”
Gibsone said we need to work together to:
· Raise awareness in the region about the threat that CRB-G poses including those countries that are yet to be affected
· Further support research into finding an effective virus for biological control
· Identify the best methods to control the CRB-G
· Distribute information about the control through improved awareness
· Stop the spread throughout the country and the rest of the Pacific.
Gibsone said the most effective method of managing the beetle is to remove or destroy organic materials that support larval development such as decaying logs and stumps and removing dead palms.
“Trapping using a pheromone lure is effective in capturing the adult beetles.
“But this has a moderate effect on the beetle population and requires large amounts of fungus to be produced in order to have any impact on the population.
“We have placed more traps for the beetle and this method was proven effective.”
On the Guadalcanal plains, Gibsone said it is the smallholder oil palm growers and also coconut growers who are hard hit by the beetle invasion as they do not have the resources to implement their own control measures.
Last week, Minister for Agriculture Dudley Kopu told parliament his ministry’s eradication measures against the beetle is continuing.
The Rhinoceros beetle is said to be passed from Guam to Papua New Guinea, and to Guadalcanal and is spreading on the most populous Malaita and also the volcanic Savo Island.
By LESLEY SANGA