As Barbados continues to be plagued by the slimy pests, known to most as the Giant African Snail, a leading Entomologist is urging members of the public to "step up their game" and start increasing the number of snails collected.

According to Entomologist at the Ministry of Agriculture, Ian Gibbs, "although the number of snails that the Ministry is getting right now is pretty good, it’s still not quite up to the amount that we were getting in recent months, especially during the latter half of last year."

Noting that since the bounty’s inception in March 2009, to the end of January of this year, some 175 tonnes of snails were collected and burned at the Ministry’s Graeme Hall headquarters, Mr. Gibbs pointed out that this figure represented a significant withdrawal of material from the breeding pool of snails in Barbados.

He said: "Each one of these pests that you pick up and destroy has the potential to produce up to 1200 eggs per year, most of which hatch and produce more snails, and subsequently, each of those go on to produce an additional 1,200 eggs per year.?? So, if you do the arithmetic you will see what a horrendous figure you would end up with in a short space of time."

Describing the eradication process as an "ongoing challenge", the agriculture officer lamented the fact that the public had this mistaken belief that it was the Ministry’s problem and not one of national concern.

??"Let me just say that this is a problem for everyone, especially for those persons that live in such heavily infested areas as St. Michael, St. James, St. George, St. Thomas, St. Andrew and St. Joseph.?? People need to realise that they have an obligation to take part in this programme, not only as a way to regulate or manage the Giant African Snail on the island, but it is also a great way of making some additional cash.??

Stressing that persons could take the herbivores to his unit at the Ministry of Agriculture where they would be weighed on site, the entomologist stated that if individuals could not get to the Ministry, they could call the Graeme Hall facility at 434-5107 and a team would come and weigh the snails on site.????

"You see, we have made this as unproblematic as possible for persons, so there should not be any excuses.?? In some instances we have had up to 1,000 lbs of snails being collected in a single day, and that represents approximately $1,000.??

"You don’t have to be living in any of the infested communities; any Bajan, anywhere on the island could collect the Giant African Snail," he reiterated.

The agriculture officer also called on other organisations such as the 4-H Foundation, the boy scouts, girl guides, schools and church and community groups to participate in the bounty programme, deeming it an environmentally sound way of dealing with the snails.

Mr. Gibbs clarified: "The bounty is 50 cents per pound for live snails.?? And, the reason we say live snails is because these creatures after they die tend to get rather smelly.?? So, if they are alive, it’s better that we at the Ministry handle them, so that persons get away from that smell."

The bounty was introduced by the Ministry of Agriculture as a means of garnering more public support and interest in collecting and destroying the Giant African Snail.??

Barbadians are again being urged to assist the Ministry of Agriculture in the campaign to eradicate these pests.??

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