VIRUS BEING USED TO CONTROL COCONUT PALM PEST

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SUVA, FIJI (December 7, 1997 - Radio Australia)---A New Zealand-bred virus is being used by the Fiji government to combat a major pest in coconut palms.

A consignment of the virus has been obtained from New Zealand as part of a Fiji government non-chemical project to control the coconut palm rhinoceros beetle.

The beetle is common in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga. It attacks the crown of the palm, causing severe damage.

The only proven methods of control are high levels of sanitation in coconut plantations --which are extremely costly and often involve chemicals-- or the virus.

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