Plant Health

The Pacific’s fragile ecosystem is constantly at risk from invasive species, pests and diseases. It is therefore vital that sustainable and appropriate management practices are developed and utilized to ensure   sustained productive use of the land. Plant Health aims to promote these practices by utilizing its three main units, entomology, pathology and weeds in undertaking regular surveys of pests and diseases, providing information, creating awareness among farmers,  updating information databases and assisting in eradication activities. 

Fiji Plant Health Survey
Monday, 27 June 2011 09:04

In March 2011, a survey of pest and diseases in the Yasawa group of islands was conducted including the northern parts of Fiji, namely Savusavu and LabasaThe survey team included personnel from SPC Plant Health, Biosecurity Fiji, Koronivia Research Station and agriculture extension officers.

The main purpose of the survey was to update the Fiji Pest List Database which was last conducted in 2002 by a New Zealand Plant Protection company. The Yasawa group of islands had never been surveyed before and because it’s a popular tourist destination, it proved an important place to cover in the survey. Savusavu is a favourite port of entry for many yachts and thus was an important place to cover in the survey. Labasa on the other hand is an agricultural town, and a non-tourist spot. Its surrounding areas are mostly farming areas, which contribute to much of the industry in the town and because it is linked to Savusavu, it is also vulnerable to the introduction of pests and diseases.

A noted highlight of the survey was the presence of an insect pest at Naviti Island in the Yasawas. The pest was defoliating bele (Hibiscus manihot) leaves and reproducing very fast. Unlike disease pathogens, which are often undetected because of their microscopic nature, these pathogens were quite visible making them easy to recognize. Other disease samples are currently being cultured at the SPC Pathology lab and results will be sent for authentification from authorized institutions.

Yasawa, Labasa and Savusavu were successfully surveyed for nematodes with soil and root samples collected for processing at the SPC Pathology Lab. These will later be sent to CABI (Center for Agriculture and Biosciences International) for authentification.

Sap and leaf feeders were also observed on trade-related crops and the cut flower trade industry. Several ants and fruit fly infested fruits were also collected and the taxonomic identification of the insects is yet to be identified and confirmed.

The interagency plant health survey provided a current and updated status of pest occurrences recorded in the Pest List Database. Advice was also provided on how to manage various kinds of pests.

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Effective management can help maintain productivity of land resources,stregthen food security, safeguard the environment and increase revenue. Plant Health strives to improve awareness on environmental implications of agricultural practices and offering safer environmentally friendly options.