Rat infestation worries manufacturer

A local manufacturer has expressed concern at the increase in rats in Samoa, and the high cost one has to pay in order to import poison to eradicate them. 

The managing director of Natural Foods International Limited, Papali'i Grant Percival, told Samoa Observer that he agreed with the concerns expressed by NGO Conservation International early this week in that rats are already impacting the environment.

“The Conservation International group is saying rats are a major problem, and we’re finding it on our farm. We put out traps every day and we monitor it – and we just keep catching them – some of them are so big, they literally break the trap,” he said in an interview.

Three to four rats are killed in traps a day at the perimeter of the company’s premises, Papali'i added, which confirms the seriousness of the problem. While rat poison is a solution to the problem, he said the exorbitant cost involved to pay for the poison and its import license is not affordable for Samoan businesses.

“And for agricultural processing (purposes) we are killing three to four a day, and they’re not from here because we put the traps around the perimeter, and we’re catching them coming in.

“So we just clean them every day, but the reality is you know you’re not supposed to bring rat poison in, unless you get a license. 

“You have to pay $400 a year for a license and for a small economy the size of Samoa, how many people will be able to pay that and import rat poison so we’re protecting the rats? The Government wants rats it’s their policy,” he said.

Quarantine Samoa Associate Chief Executive Officer, Vui Pelenato Fonoti, yesterday confirmed the need for a license to import rat poison. 

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He said Samoa has a pesticide register where rat poisons are registered and can be applied for and used as well as sold to customers. 

“If you want to apply – if it’s a new rat poison – it has to go through a pesticide committee that approves. If declined, we advise the applicants and give them the option of using the already registered poisons.

“If it’s too expensive for you, you can order it yourself, but it has to be the same product – otherwise it has to go through the committee,” he added. 

Papali’i also questioned Samoa’s border control arrangements and whether enough is being done to guard against invasive species such as rats.

“Because once they (rats) get in here, its tourism and paradise for them, because we’re not allowed to poison them, because no one is going to buy poison at that price,” he said.

But Vui, in response, said Samoa has a tight border control system called the Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHC). It works in partnership with a number of Pacific Island countries. 

“There’s already a system from long time ago, assembled together with New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Solomon, and many other Pacific Islanders for companies transporting containers, which is called Sea Container Hygiene System (SCHC).

“We monitor but we outsource our shipping agents, and they do their baiting regularly around the border area within here, to monitor pests and rodents. 

“This rat problem as stated in the query – it’s a collective effort and even from our side – we try our best to clean out everything, and make sure everything is inspected which benefits our receivers,” he added.

And in an appeal to local manufacturers in Samoa, Vui urged them to have trust and confidence in the systems that are in place.

“What I am trying to say is for every country, border protection works requires and is based on trust. You have to trust your partners and the people bringing in your goods – they do the systems there – and we apply it here and vice versa,” he said.

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