Our Work - Plant Health
Friday, 23 April 2010 10:53
Entomology Unit
SPC /LRD insect pest management is undertaken by the Plant Health Thematic group and is implemented by the Entomology team. Entomology is mandated to provide service to the PICTs in the following areas;

Insect pest list data base update
2. Biological control of insect pests
3. Solutions to queries requested
4. Coordinate insect pest related projects
5. Coordinate insecticide related projects
6. Promote IPM of vegetable production
7. Secretariat to the Fiji Organic Association (FOA)

Entomology staff, in collaboration with national counterparts to conduct insect surveys, identify new insects and update insect pest list. The insect pest list is vital during trade facilitation between two or more countries. The known presence or absence of a certain insect pest in the exporting country in particular, is crucial for market access and commodity risk analysis. The updated insect list is a requirement especially from the importing country to ensure no new inclusion of insects present in the commodity in question by the exporting country. The presence of the same insect pest in both countries are of no risk to the flora of the importing country.
Biological control activities include insect pests such as spiraling whitefly (SWF), coconut scale insects (CSI), mealy bugs and rhinoceros beetle.

Pathology Unit
The pathology unit assists in identifying plant diseases and pathogens involved. In collaboration with the farmers, the unit develops selective techniques which can manage the pathogens and minimize plant damage. Plant Disease surveys are also carried out in PICTS to update their national plant disease data and to facilitate international trade.

Researches being carried out include:
- Control of yam anthracnose (Glomerella cingulata/Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) through use of a plant resistance activator, compost tea (phylloplane biocontrol) and other new fungicides.
- Development of cultural control methods for kava dieback that farmers will use. Use of modern biotechnology allowed Plant Health and Fiji government scientists to identify localized distribution of the virus in the kava plants which led to the development of selective rogueing techniques.
- Revitalisation of cocoa in Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa using an integrated plant disease management approach (IPDM).
- Management of taro nematodes in the Solomon islands using cultural methods.
- Plant disease survey in PICTs to update their national plant disease data and to facilitate international trade.

Weeds are a growing problem in the Pacific, costing farmers a lot of money, time and effort to control. SPC works with other countries through agencies like South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to address weed issues in the pacific. The Pacific has implemented a Regional Invasive Species Strategy and most have set up a committee to focus on identifying invasive species in the countries, species that may be invasive if introduced and ways to prevent their establishment. This section assists in identifying and reducing the environmental, economic and social impacts of invasive plants by undertaking research to better understand how best to manage them with a strong focus on biocontrol . Information is gathered from partners who have developed or can develop weed control techniques that suit Pacific Island Conditions and techniques are modified, selecting appropriate ways to apply them. Weed distributions are also recorded in different PICTS, studying their impacts and trying to find alternative options and potential biocontrol agents to manage the weeds effectively.

- Biological control using a small weevil of water hyacinth in Vanuatu, a weed strangling the waterways.
- Biological control of mile-a-minute weed (Mikania micrantha) in Fiji and Papua New Guinea

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