Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Farmers' wait and see stance

Serafina Silaitoga

Fiji Times News - Tuesday, February 02, 2010

THE million dollar dalo industry on Taveuni is eyeing the island's newest residents the green iguana to see what damage it may do to crop stock.

If the iguanas are damaging cash crops, an eradication program could be funded out of State coffers.

The iguana, that has been on the island since 2000, is a herbivore, eating leaves and bark.

Agriculture Ministry chief veterinary officer Doctor Robin Archari said that teams were investigating claims the iguana damaged dalo shoots and cabbage farms on the island. He said if confirmed, this would threaten the industry on the Garden Island.

Agriculture permanent secretary Colonel Mason Smith said the ministry would have to look at some sort of eradication program if the iguana was a threat.

"We are still waiting for the chief veterinary officer's reports to talk it over with environment authorities and the SPCA," Mr Smith said.

Dalo farmers on the island have raised concerns that their main source of income may be affected by the presence of the iguana.

Delaivuna farmers co-operative spokesman Emilio Qiolele yesterday said the whole island depended on the income from dalo.

"Dalo is our major source of income and if the iguana eats dalo leaves which will damage our farms, then our financial security is at stake. We are pleading with the government to do something now because Taveuni also injects millions of dollars into the nation's economy from exporting dalo," Mr Qiolele said.

He said the group was yet to receive any reports of dalo farms being damaged by the iguana.

"But we are concerned about the findings that the iguana is a herbivore and feeds on dalo leaves which will damage our farms affecting our major source of income," he said.

No comments: