WOMEN farmers in Numbu community, North-East Guadalcanal, are extremely alarmed with the continuous widespread of the destructive pest, Giant African Snail, which has a major effect on their cash crops and livelihoods.
There have been widespread reports of snails causing a lot of damage and loss to subsistence cash crops, badly affecting farmers’ income.
This snail usually attacks more than 500 types of plants, but it prefers cassava, cocoa, papaya, peanut, rubber and most species of legumes and cucurbits such as cucumbers, pumpkins and water melons.
Numbu women have been experiencing many loses of their crops such as; cabbage leaves affected, vegetables fruits infected and decay, banana leaves all eaten up leaving them grow unhealthy and produce unhealthy fruits.
Local woman Meltas Kukutu said the increasing snail population had caused fear among the Numbu community because it could not get rid or even reduce the rapid spread and growth of the pest’s population.
She said, from this snail population and increasing damage to their crops, they are losing almost half of money they would’ve earned from a whole garden.
This affects their livelihoods as they depend entirely on their gardens’ crops for food and money.
“This is not a new issue for us,” she said. “The presence of the African snail over the years has damaged our food gardens and crops. Although we know a few methods of to get rid of them it is way too expensive.”
According to Biodiversity Solomon Islands (BSI), the Giant African Snail has quickly exceeded its budget and capacity to control which is SBD 2 million whereas the estimate for the effective management of this snail alone is around SBD 10 million per annum.
Mrs Kukutu reported that they are not getting help from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAL). They are only using some cultural methods, but would be more effective if combined chemical control.
On behalf of Numbu women farmers, Mrs Kukutu is calling on the Ministry responsible for the snail control to help them in any way to get rid or control the invasion of these snails.
African snail and Rhinoceros beetle are currently known to be among the two most invasive pest species in the Solomon Islands.
The snails were introduced to Solomon Islands in 2006,and their numbers have exploded beyond Honiara and into other provinces around the country.