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APIA, Samoa (May 7, 1998 - PACNEWS)---Samoa's Agriculture Department says it is confident it will be able to eradicate much of the county's African snail problem, following successful tests with a new chemical, Metaltahyde, in heavily infested areas.

Many parts of Samoa have been overrun by the pest, wrecking havoc on local crops, since it first arrived in 1994 from neighboring American Samoa.

The Department of Agriculture says Metaltahyde has only been used in Samoa on a limited basis in the past, making the current 300-ton shipment donated by Japan the largest ever brought into the country in an effort to eliminate the pest.

Once sprayed, the chemical kills the snails for a period of up to two months, without affecting livestock.

Large-scale spraying of Metaltahyde will begin next week.

Meanwhile, an environmental group, O Le Siosiomaga Society, which is opposed to the chemical solution, has launched a campaign encouraging Samoans to eat the snails.

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