BEETLE WREAKING HAVOC ON PNG COCONUT TREES

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Chicken manure blamed

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 31, 2010) - Papua New Guineans’ love for fresh chickens may be responsible for the destruction of coconut trees in Port Moresby.

People are looking after chickens in most settlements in Port Moresby and their careless dumping of chicken manure is creating breeding grounds for beetles that destroy the coconut palms.

In Port Moresby, many coconut trees look sick and foreign pests are being blamed for killing these trees.

The insects that are crawling in the sawdust are the ones responsible for the destruction of coconut palms throughout the city.

This was revealed by the chief executive officer of the Kokonas Indastri Koporesen Tore Ovasuru when explaining that entomologists from research organizations in the country, including the PNG Cocoa Coconut Institute, National Agriculture Research Institute and National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority, were trying to identify the agent of the diseases that had destroyed most of the coconut trees.

"The sawdust is the ideal location for these insects to breed," he said.

"We have to do a lot of awareness to make people to properly dispose of sawdust."

Mr. Ovasuru said PNG also had a massive task of rehabilitating the once lucrative coconut industry to its former glory.

He said the industry had been left to go to ruins although many Papua New Guineans depended on coconut in their daily lives. Papua New Guineans consume up to 300 million coconuts each year while the revenue from the export of copra reached PGK270 million last year.

Up to 307,000 farmers depended on the coconut industry in the country and up to two million people depend on the coconuts for their livelihood.

Ovasuru said the coconut industry was important to the economy of the country and adequate support, including a massive capital injection, should be given to rehabilitate all the plantations throughout the country.

The Government has already allocated PGK7 million to rehabilitate coconut plantations in the country.

He said there were discoveries made that revealed that coconut oil also enhanced the immune system in people living with HIV/AIDS.

"We must rehabilitate the coconut plantations to sustain the industry in the longer term," Ovasuru said.

He said the Government had allocated funds to support the industry and this was one of the first times that the Government had showed commitment to the industry.

Ovasuru said KIK was also piloting prototypes so that small growers could use coconut trees to produce by -products to earn money.

"(With our programs) we are assisting farmers to have better income earning opportunities," Ovasuru said.

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