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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (August 12, 1998 - Samoa News)---The banana crop in American Samoa is under siege from an invisible enemy known as the aphid (or the pentalinia nigronervosa in scientific terms).

The despicable insect is invisible to the naked eye and attacks young bananas and stops the plant permanently from bearing fruits.

At last count, the American Samoa Community College Land Grant Extension Division, which has undertaken efforts to combat the insect, estimated that about 20 percent of the local banana crop had been destroyed, which is equivalent to over 30,000 bananas.

"The epidemic is growing and unless we take preventive measures, we may see our banana industry going down the drain," warned ASCC Land Grant Extension Officer Alfred Peters."

"At this point, the bunchy top disease is a real threat to the banana production in the country," added Extension Officer Ike Sagaga.

Among the preventive measures now preached by Peters and his colleague Sagaga to farmers is to avoid exchanging banana plants, as some of the young plants may already have been infected.

Moreover, ASCC Land Grant has the support of appropriate government officials to enforce strict quarantine measures when it comes to imported bananas.

The two Land Grant Officers have briefed village mayors on the symptoms, and a series of hands-on clinics have been conducted to teach the farmers the proper way to eliminate the aphid permanently.

Stories from the SAMOA NEWS, American Samoa's daily newspaper, may not be republished without permission. To contact the publisher, send e-mail to

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