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Campaign launched to eliminate palm tree pest

‘Dangerous’ Red palm weevil kills tree or sapling it infests, official says

By Hana Namrouqa - Jan 17,2017 - Last updated at Jan 17,2017

Over the past 10 years, a total of 29,000 date palm trees have been planted in the Jordan Valley (Photo by Khaled Oudat)

AMMAN — The Ministry of Agriculture launched on Tuesday a two-week campaign to eliminate the red palm weevil, a devastating pest of palm trees, in the north of the Jordan Valley, according to a government official.

The campaign was launched following field surveillance of several farms in the northern parts of the Jordan Valley, where the pest was found, Agriculture Ministry Spokesperson Nimer Haddadin said.

Traps are being distributed across palm tree farms in the northern Jordan Valley, Haddadin said, indicating that severely infected trees will be uprooted to prevent the spread of the weevil, while trees with slight infection will be regularly sprayed with pesticides.

The red palm weevil is a dangerous pest that kills the tree or sapling it infests, according to Haddadin, who noted that the affected farms are categorised as hot spots and are being closely monitored to prevent the spread of the bug.

The insect was first spotted in the country in May 1999, in a palm farm in the Jordan Valley. 

Following the discovery of the pest in Jordan, the ministry banned imports of palm saplings from countries where the red weevil has been discovered.

Palm tree importers must provide the ministry with a certificate guaranteeing that their goods are not diseased before they are authorised to import palm seedlings.

The red palm weevil is native to Southeast Asia, but has been recorded in several countries around the world, according to the University of California’s Centre for Invasive Species Research.

“The international trade in live palms is the most likely conduit that has allowed this pest, probably moved as eggs, larvae, or pupae hidden inside palms, to move vast distances,” the centre’s website said.

The red palm weevil “is widely considered to be the most damaging insect pest of palms in the world”, it added.

In March last year, the ministry and the National Centre for Agricultural Research uprooted some 1,000 trees infested with the pest from the farms of Azraq, which is home to 50,000 palm trees.

A similar campaign will be launched later in the southern parts of the Jordan Valley, according to the Agriculture Ministry.

With palm tree plantation “flourishing in the Jordan Valley”, the yield and the quality “is improving by the year”, the ministry said, underscoring the need to protect the area from this pest.

Date palm farming has been on the rise in the Jordan Valley, according to the ministry, which indicated that the trend started in the 1990s.

 

Figures from the Jordan Valley Farmers Union indicate that over the past 10 years, a total of 29,000 date palm trees have been planted in the Jordan Valley, while more farmers are shifting to palm tree cultivation whose fruits are considered of high value.

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