by Marie Kauna – EMTV Online, Port Moresby
Coconut oryctes rhinoceros is a species of rhinoceros beetle, that attacks developing coconut fronds, and is the most dangerous agricultural pest.
The Solomon Islands Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock confirmed that Oryctes, the world’s dangerous agricultural pest, is now in Honiara.
Director of Quarantine Department, Francis Tsatsia, confirmed the beetle’s presence after the breeding sites were discovered in Honiara. Quarantine officials further investigated and found the adult and larvae of the coconut rhinoceros beetle around Kukum and Panatina areas.
Mr Tsatsia said the discovery was made after members of the public reported strange damage found on the coconut palms at Kukum and Panatina. He added the beetles kill newly planted palms and said the larvae do not damage the crops, but instead grow in the dead, decaying trunks and other organic matter.
Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock have already set up a task force committee to investigate how far the dangerous beetle has spread across the country. Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, Jimmy Saela, confirmed his officials will go to the identified breeding sites.
Ministerial officials added the presence of the beetle is now a threat to the country’s coconut industry and economy, and is calling for public support to fight against the deadly pest.