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Leaf beetle infestation: Seychelles' steps up biosecurity measures 

Victoria, Seychelles | July 10, 2024, Wednesday @ 14:27 in National » GENERAL | By: Sedrick Nicette Edited By: Betymie Bonnelame | Views: 2426
Leaf beetle infestation: Seychelles' steps up biosecurity measures 

Specimens of the leaf beetle and how it infests golden apple trees. (Seychelles Nation)

Photo license  

(Seychelles News Agency) - As part of ongoing efforts to raise awareness about the current leaf beetle situation in Seychelles, the Department of Agriculture is continuing to enhance various measures in a strategic approach to combat the infestation.

It was revealed in a workshop on Wednesday, that the infestation, which is affecting golden apple trees, has now reached La Digue.   

The leaf beetle was first reported in Seychelles in November 2023 and has been attacking golden apple trees on the main island of Mahe, prompting the Department of Agriculture to establish a rapid response team to deal with the infestation.

It is now affecting golden apple trees on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the three most populated islands of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.  

The beetle is brightly coloured - usually yellow or salmon pink- with an antenna of 11 segments and as an adult it can measure up to 5 millimetres in length.

In the workshop held at the STC conference room, various presentations were made to give an overview of how the current situation is being managed, the emergency response programme and the monitoring and control methods.

"The role of biosecurity services cannot be overstated. Today's workshop aims to sensitise all stakeholder groups about the vital activities and responsibilities of our Biosecurity Services," said the principal secretary for Agriculture, Keven Nancy.

He said these services are frontline defences against the introduction and spread of pests and diseases that threaten the country's crops, environment, biodiversity, and even its economy.

Presentations also included the works done by the pre-border, border and post-border services.

"Pre-border bio-security involves stringent measures and inspections that are conducted even before goods and plants reach our shores, through Pest Risk Analysis( PRA), where the Approximate Level of Risk (ALOR) or protection is identified," said Nancy.

Technicians from the environment department after examination are fumigating the affected areas. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  

He highlighted that these proactive measures are critical in identifying and mitigating potential risks at the source, reducing the likelihood of pests and diseases entering our country.

Border services are the entities dealing with a consignment when reaches the port of entry - the airport, the seaport and now the post office, which is used for parcels coming in through online shopping. The post-border service focuses on monitoring and managing any threats that do make it through our pre-border and border defences.

Over the years, new pests such as the melon fly, fruit fly, the tortoise beetle, spiraling whitefly, the papaya mealy and the hairy caterpillar have all found their way into Seychelles and posed significant threats.

Nancy said, "Now one of the pressing issues that we are currently facing is the infestation of the leaf beetle attacking the golden apple. This pest poses a significant threat to one of our important crops, and our emergency management programme is crucial in addressing this challenge."

He said that as the country develops and prospers "trade, travel and tourism are the main threat to biosecurity. However, the success of our biosecurity initiatives depends not just on the efforts of the Biosecurity Services alone but on the collaboration and active participation of all stakeholders."

This is the third workshop done in the wake of the lead beetle infestation, although not many entities turned up.  

Nancy said he was not satisfied with the turnout and "although we got the presence of some entities, including Seychelles Revenue Commission, the Seychelles Ports Authority and the Department of Environment, which are key sectors for us, we really wanted the presence of others such as the Department of Education, wildlife clubs and others."

Since the discovery of the beetle in Seychelles, the Department of Agriculture has sent its technicians to examine the situation as well as fumigate the areas it was found on all affected golden apple trees. 

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Tags: Pest Risk Analysis, Biosecurity Services

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