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Pacific Islands Coconut Pest Management Conference Highlights Collaborative Efforts and Action Plan

Honiara, Solomon Islands – July 5, 2024 – The "Towards an Action Plan to Minimise the Impacts of Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle and Other Major Pests on Coconuts in the Pacific Islands" conference, organized by the Pacific Community (SPC), concluded successfully at the Solomon Islands National University (SINU) from July 2 to July 5, 2024.

The conference gathered experts and researchers to address the significant threats posed by coconut pests, particularly the Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB). The event aimed to develop a comprehensive action plan to mitigate these pests' adverse impacts on the coconut industry, crucial to the economies and livelihoods in the Pacific Islands.

The conference was officially opened by the Vice Chancellor of the Solomon Islands National University, Dr. Ganesh Chand, with remarks from Karen Mapusua, SPC's Director of Land Resources Division, who emphasized the critical need for collaborative efforts in tackling coconut pests. Her opening remarks set the stage for productive discussions and strategic planning throughout the event.

Key sessions included discussions on emerging coconut pest threats, holistic biosecurity approaches, and developing an action plan for impactful research and effective management strategies. Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, Executive Director of the International Coconut Community (ICC), contributed to the prioritization exercise on coconut pests and participated in group work to identify research topics and funding sources. In one of the sessions, "Overcoming Trade Barriers," chaired by Mr. Riten Gosai from the Pacific Community (SPC), Dr. Alouw emphasized the importance of international collaboration and shared her insights on biosecurity measures, drawing from the ICC's global experience.

The action plan developed during the conference focuses on enhancing regional coordination, advancing collaborative research, and implementing effective pest control measures. It includes a three-tier strategy of pre-border, border, and post-border measures to ensure comprehensive biosecurity. The plan also prioritizes the development of early detection systems, rapid response mechanisms, and sustainable management practices tailored to the unique challenges of the Pacific Islands.

The conference also included a field visit, providing participants with an overview of Solomon Islands' problem of coconut pest attacks at the field level and hands-on experience in the practical aspects of CRB pest management using cultural control, (sanitation and multicrops approaches) and biological control agent,  Metarhizium anisopliae.

SPC played a pivotal role in coordinating these efforts, underscoring its commitment to safeguarding the coconut industry in the Pacific region. The action plan's implementation is expected to significantly improve the region's capacity to manage and mitigate the impacts of coconut pests, thereby protecting the livelihoods of millions of people dependent on coconut farming.

The International Coconut Community continues to be at the forefront of promoting sustainable coconut farming practices and addressing the challenges faced by coconut farmers worldwide.

Several organizations played key roles in the conference, including the Pacific Community (SPC), International Coconut Community (ICC), AgResearch NZ, University of Guam, KIK PNG, University of Hawaii, USDA, MFAT, CSIRO, the East-West Center, Nature Conservancy, Island Conservation, and the Sasakawa Peace Foundation.

About the Pacific Community (SPC): The Pacific Community is the principal scientific and technical organization in the Pacific region, supporting development through science and knowledge, guided by a deep understanding of Pacific Island contexts and cultures.

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