Guam rhinoceros beetle a new threat

A new threat to the region’s copra industries originated from Guam in 2007 and has compelled the local biosecurity team to be extra vigilant when checking goods entering the country. 

The new species of coconut rhinoceros beetle Guam (CRB-G) is far worse than the current rhino beetles, which are present in most Pacific Island countries, including Samoa.  

Ministry of Agriculture Assistant C.E.O., Moafanua Tolo Iosefo said they are well aware of the CRB-G and the biosecurity team, through the assistance of the Pacific Community (S.P.C.), is ensuring that every item that arrives into the country are cleared and checked thoroughly.  

“According to information from S.P.C., this new species of rhino beetles in the region is far worse compared to the current one we have, but if we look at the one we have already, it is worse also,” Moafanua said. 

“So if this one is accidently introduced into the country, then for sure our copra industry will collapse. So we are doing everything we can to protect our industry for the future. 

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“We are looking at especially the biosecurity border to make sure that none of this new rhino beetles accidently comes in to the country, so that is something the Ministry is alert about.”

 Moafanua said for the time being, the Ministry together with the coconut farming communities, are working together to minimise the population of the current rhino beetles.

“Or if possible eliminate it in the near future, so we are doing everything possible to make sure the rhino beetles are controlled.” 

In the Solomon Islands, CRB-G has damaged a lot of coconut trees in Honiara, Guadalcanal and is moving east, according to Dennis Frank, who is the Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture extension officer. 

“The new rhino beetles has also spread to other provinces in central Solomon Islands and it has affected majority of our coconut plantations,” he said.  

“The biosecurity team is trying to control the spread of rhino beetles through awareness programmes and teaching the farmers on how to work towards controlling its spread.” 

Mr. Frank was part of the Coconut Industry Development for the Pacific train the trainers programme that concluded at the Tanoa Tusitala Hotel yesterday. 

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