AFRICAN SNAILS WORRY GUADALCANAL FARMERS

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Voracious slug multiplying at alarming rate

By Ednal Palmer HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 2, 2010) - The African giant snail has not damaged food crops as yet, but the rapid rate of its reproduction is irking Fox wood residents on the Guadalcanal plains.

Steven Sasarau of Fox wood who found the largest size snail when cleaning around his home said the rapid increase of the snail in the Fox wood areas is a real concern.

"At the moment, the snail poses no danger still to our food crops, but we believe that is because there are plenty of unwanted green plants that are keeping them away," he told the Solomon Star.

"Our worry is on its multiplication rate, because it might suddenly turn on our food crops in the future and cause a huge disaster," Mr. Sasarau said.

He said the snail is unstoppable in the area.

"People can stumble on it everywhere when walking during night time."

He said what they want is some awareness on the snail.

"We want to know more about the snail so that we can help in the fight to eradicate it.

"Information such as how it can survive, its life cycle and others that we might be of any help in ridding it."

He accused the Agriculture quarantine department for failing to carry out awareness to people in the Fox wood area.

"They promised to carry out awareness programs in our area in 2008 but we have not heard of anything from them," Sasarau said.

"Now that it is spreading like wildfire, I want the quarantine people to come and educate people about the snail," he said

The Agriculture quarantine department said that was news to them again that the snail is everywhere in the Fox wood area.

"We do not know whereabouts from Fox Wood Sasarau is from but in 2008, we carried out a huge eradication campaign and awareness," a spokesperson from the quarantine office said.

He said people in the communities were engaged in the fight.

"We bought bush knives and pay them allowances to clear off identified areas before we applied bait on the areas and that went on for 10 days.

"Not only that, we also give out awareness pamphlets and posters about the snail to people in the Fox Wood area," he said.

He said they managed to wipe out the snail during that program and the fresh reports about its presence in the area again is news to them.

"We also need such information so that we can plan towards it."

However he said that the major setback to their ongoing program is lack of funds to keep the program going.

"It is an ongoing program but we cannot do much without funds," the spokesperson said.

He said the program will continue this year if funds are available and information on the presence of the snail in areas would be very helpful.

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