Beware of coconut disease - Solomon Star News

Beware of coconut disease

20 April 2014

The Biosecurity Solomon Islands (BSI) formerly known Solomon Islands Agriculture Quarantine Service (SIAQS) which has been tasked to safeguard and protect the coconut industry in Solomon Islands has warned the public to be on alert for Oryctes rhinoceros disease.

Jean Eroa Biosecurity Solomon Islands officer in the ministry of agriculture and livestock (MAL) said Oryctes rhinoceros has recently arrived in Guam and Hawaii despite the considerable efforts of United States department of agriculture.

She said Guam has now expects to lose 50-70% of their coconuts and their government has spent about US$2.5 million in eradication programs but to no avail.

“Good news of Solomon Islands is we remain free of Oryctes rhinoceros.

“We are charged to safeguard and protect the coconut industry from this including many other pests. But our message to public now is watch out for these disease since countries have it are close to us,” she said.

Rhinoceros beetle (Oryctes rhinoceros) is a serious pest of coconut and other palm species. The adults bore into the centre of the crown injuring the young growing point and feed on the sap.

As they bore into the crown they cut through the developing leaves and the emerging fronds show ‘V” shaped cuts when they unfold.
Oryctes rhinoceros has a tiny horn unlike the rhinoceros beetle species found in the Solomon Islands, Scapanes australis. (See pictures)

Meanwhile Mrs Eroa said the simplest way to prevent the entry of this new pests and diseases is to control movement of plants across the border at the air and seaport.

“Solomon Islands is still free of this pest and many other dangerous invasive species that can easily be introduced by human activities”

“If people wish to bring new plants into the country they should first contact Biosecurity Solomon Islands who’ll issue an import permit which will advise them on how it can be done safely.

“Therefore the ministry wants to ask the public that if you see any signs of this disease at your coconut trees report it to your nearest agriculture office or to Biosecurity Solomon Islands on phones Toll free phone: 131, Honiara: 24657/24658/21294, Munda: 62301, Noro: 61296,Gizo:60281,Lata:53122,” she said.