Red palm mite. Image: www.ars.usda.gov????
An appeal has gone out for Barbadians to be on the lookout for the Red Palm Mite Pest.
This plea has come from Entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ian Gibbs, who advised persons that if they suspect that they might have it (the pest) on their palms, coconut trees, orchids, ginger lilies or heliconias to contact the Ministry of Agriculture, as soon as possible.
"We have been surveying for well over a year, palms, all species of palms including coconuts and all the other plants mentioned across the island and to date we have not found this pest, however, we are surrounded on all sides by countries infested by this pest," he explained.
The Entomologist revealed that although some of the other islands are currently experiencing severe problems from the red palm mite, Barbados has managed to remain unscathed.
"So far this pest has not been sighted, yet we grow a lot of palms in Barbados especially to beautify the landscape and make the environment more aesthetically pleasing, particularly so in a number of the tourist areas, as we are heavily dependent on tourism.?? Therefore, we want to keep these palms as pest free as possible, as the
tourists associate the tropics with palms and Bajans like to see palms in their landscape.?? We want to protect them from the ravages of this mite," Mr. Gibbs stressed.
The Agriculture Officer also pointed out that right now in Trinidad and Tobago, ??coconut production is down by 75 per cent because of the pest.?? He further added that during a recent trip to St. Kitts he saw many examples of trees destroyed or ravaged by the mite and urged ?????????????????? Barbadians who think they might have it or see it, to contact the Ministry of Agriculture, urgently at 434-5000.
"We can’t take any risks where this pest is concerned.?? Therefore we have to stop it in its tracks," he cautioned.