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Epidemic caused by commercial livestock farming

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, February 27, 2009) – The tree of life — the coconut — is slowly being destroyed in Papua New Guinea’s Central Province.

A foreign beetle is destroying the coconut leaves, which will affect the capacity of the coconut palms to bear.

The insect identified as the rhino beetle was believed to have originated from East Asia and was discovered in the 1930s and has become epidemic in Central Province.

The rhino beetle’s presence on coconut trees can be identified by the signs of razor cut marks on the tip of the coconuts.

The Cocoa and Coconut Institute (CCI) revealed that there were several ways to control the spread of the rhino beetle.

CCI said the beetle could be controlled by biological methods, using a mixture of neem tree and sand to repel the beetles from eating the coconut leaves.

They said this could be done by mixing neem tree leaves which contain a special chemical compound with sand and having it rubbed in the coconut crown.

CCI also revealed the epidemic could be controlled by using fungi to kill the beetle when it consumes it. They explained that the fungi could be grown on the coconut and when the beetle eats it, it would die.

Furthermore, CCI explained that the beetle’s young could also be infected by the consumption of the fungi by its parent.

CCI said the rhino beetle epidemic was a result of a lot of commercial livestock farming such as poultry which created the breeding ground for the beetle.

CCI added that sawdust and chicken manure may have created a good breeding ground for the insect.

Meanwhile, major copra producing areas such as East New Britain and Autonomous Region of Bougainville are not affected by the pest.

However CCI revealed that there are reports of rhino beetle in East New Britain.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/




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