by Juanita Nonwo – EM TV Online
Bio-Security officers in Cook Islands have seized a basket of banned taro from Samoa that was on board the ship, Lady Naomi, on Monday.
The items were confiscated and burned; this was a preventative measure carried out by Cook Islands to protect its staple crops.
The main reason behind these tough bio-security checks is to prevent the country from experiencing a similar crisis that Samoa faced in 1993, where a leaf blight disease infected the entire taro crops in both American Samoa and Samoa, where taros were destroyed by a pathogen called Phytopthora colocaesiae.
The leaf blight is weighed as a very infectious disease for the reason that it affects the entire taro family; affecting the leaves, the stalks and the corms, instigating about 90% to 100% death to the leaves and inevitably killing the whole plant.
Taro is Cook Islands’ staple food and the country’s border security are not taking any risks; carrying out a defensive measure against any leaf blight diseases or other infective plant fungi that may be a threat to taro and the national bio-security of Cook Islands.
The director of Cook Islands’ bio-security, Ngatoko Ta Ngatoko, said that the incident was very alarming as taro from Samoa were a great threat to Cook Islands taro crops.
“We in the Cook Islands do not want this disease to affect our crops. For this reason, we have strict measures for protection from plants and plant products entering our borders, especially products from very high risks countries like Samoa and Tahiti,” said the director.