Survey finds increase in coconut rhinoceros beetles

Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay at the World Copra Day celebration in Savusavu early this year. Picture: FT FILE

A SURVEY conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Research Division between 2016 and 2017 identified a 30 per cent increase in the population of coconut rhinoceros beetles.

This was revealed by Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay in Parliament.

He said the upsurge in the pest population was a direct result on the damage incurred by the coconut industry after Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston in 2016.

“Major focused areas of coconut production in Viti Levu, Vanua Levu, Taveuni, Kadavu, Lomaiviti and the Lau Group were covered in the survey,” Mr Pillay said.

The budget, he said, would ensure the management of coconut pests and setting up of control measures to combat its infestation.

“These involve the use of pheromone traps, biological control agents, such as virus and fungus for coconut rhinoceros beetle, bio agent for stick insects, coconut flat moth and scale insects.”

The ministry was allocated $96.8million in the 2018/2019 National Budget, a $10.5m increase from the previous budget.