The National, Thursday July 25th, 2013
By JEFFREY ELAPA
AN unidentified pest has invaded Manus and is threatening crops and people, local MP Ronnie Knight claims.
Knight said the beetle-type pest had invaded Armik Island and destroyed coconut trees.
“The pest is widespread on the island and is affecting the plantation, some very bad and others are worse,” he said.
Knight said the pest was attacking sago palms, oil palms, betel nuts and taros, which were the staple food of Manus islanders.
“Therefore we need urgent intervention,” Knight said.
“They have affected my (Armik) island badly. The animals (rats) were introduced by so-called partners and investors. Let’s pack up both four-legged and two-legged and send them back to where they come from,” he said.
A similar concern was raised recently by Madang Governor Jim Kas about an unknown disease that was affecting betel nuts in the province.
He said the disease had destroyed betel nuts in the Markham valley of Morobe and was spreading to West New Britain and Manus.
Kas said he feared families who depended on betel nuts would suffer as a consequence of the disease.
He urged relevant authorities to investigate the disease and contain its spread.
Agriculture Minister Tommy Tomscoll said the diseases were brought in from countries in Asia through the migration of people, food trade and importation of goods.