University research offers solution

A research carried out by the University of the South Pacific, Alafua Campus, offers another solution for local farmers to control pests and insects that damage their farm. 

The research involves the collection of different insects from across Samoa and the Pacific region and stored in the Pest museum at the university, which now houses hundreds of insects, with the collection started in the 1970s.  

Lecturer in Plant Protection Leslie Ubaub, from the Philippines, said they will soon be collecting insect-pathogenic nematode from around the country to become biological control agents, and hopefully use them to control insect pests. 

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“With pest management, it’s not quick, it’s not easy, and it’s collaboration between the USP, farmers and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. It takes time, diagnosis takes time. Some diseases can be identified and managed quick, most of the time it really takes time, especially now that the climate is changing,” Ms. Ubaub said. 

Going into her second year at the university, Ms. Ubaub said she has already established a pest clinic. 

“The clinic and pest museum are related because for example some farmers will have pest insects from the farm and they want to confirm the species so that they can correctly control or manage the pest. So they will come in here. 

“It will be easier for us if we have the sample already, confirmation is just like getting the exact specimen and identify them, and so with our collection, it’s better and it’s easy to confirm. 

“In the advent of having new species coming from another country to Samoa and elsewhere, it will be a good data collection, if you have these already. If ever the sample that the farmer or other institution will come and present to us it’s new and we don’t have it, it's easy to say it’s new, because sometimes we don’t have collection yet, we need to start from the bottom, we need to dig deeper on the history of the insect.”

Ms. Ubaub is also encouraging students to take up agriculture courses as it is a field that is relevant to every aspect of life. 

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