Minister of Agriculture, Sen. Haynesley Benn

The Ministry of Agriculture has adopted a zero tolerance approach with regards to dealing with the Giant African Snail.

Minister of Agriculture, Senator Haynesley Benn, gave this assurance today while outlining the Ministry’s new stance in attacking the pest.

He pointed out that although the Ministry had identified the pest as a problem, more needed to be done to help combat the spread of the snail. Furthermore, he disclosed that the snail bait was being used incorrectly by some persons, hence the difficulty in ridding the island of the troublesome pest.

“Last year alone we spent over half a million dollars buying bait, we encouraged householders to come here at the Ministry and collect bait and not all householders were coming. You would find there would be 10 householders in a district, yet only one or two would come and collect the bait, and bait around their compound, but the rest of the householders were not baiting and that defeated the entire purpose,” he lamented.

The Agriculture Minister went on to express his dissatisfaction with the way the bait was being used.  “I recently learnt from someone whose property was heavily infested with snails, that they would put a cluster of bait in one area and because the bait would only attract the adult snail and not the younger snails, within a short period of time she could rake up to 50 or 60 snails at one time, as they would converge on that one particular area,” he explained.

“What we do (at the Ministry) is that our team would drive around with a spray gun and line the entire sidewalks with bait.  And, all we were doing was wasting that bait.  We, along with members of the public have helped contribute to the wastage, with the amount of money that was being spent on bait, by now, we should have done a more effective job,” he said.

Citing that baiting was no longer effective, Senator Benn stressed that the solution was now to pick and burn.

“We need to make this a national problem. People seem to think it is a Ministry thing, but it isn’t.  Everyone needs to join in this fight and get on board,” he urged.
Noting that there needed to be a constant follow-up with regards to tackling the problem, the Senator said that even environmentalists expressed concern about the frequent use of snail bait.

“Come Saturday, March 7, the Ministry is going to re-launch its eradication programme.  We are going to mount programmes where we pick and burn. Our team will follow through after that with any spraying, using liquid metaldehyde as that will kill the young snails as they don’t lay eggs, only the adult snails,” he said.

In underscoring the importance of the eradication programme, Senator Benn stressed that it was a matter of re-educating the community.

“From the public to the team at the Ministry has to be reprogrammed.  This going out and just spraying isn’t working; hence, the need to come out on Saturday, March 7, and do justice to the programme to eradicate the snails,” he concluded.

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