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And the islanders' livelihood as well

Solomon Islands: Coconut rhinoceros beetle threatens palm trees

Solomon Islanders are facing a bleak future now the coconut rhinoceros beetle has gained a foothold on their fertile plains, killing their "tree of life" by the millions. The Pacific islanders do not rely on the ubiquitous fruit just for nutrition — the coconuts supply the palms' valuable cash crops of oil and copra, while the tree is also used for building and making essential household goods. Exports of palm oil and copra are worth at least $50 million a year.

Over the past three years, the coconut rhinoceros beetle has ferociously attacked the massive plantations of Guadalcanal Plains Palm Oil Limited. Its general manager Craig Gibsone fears for future: "At the moment, I won't say that we're losing but we're certainly not winning. It just seems to be getting worse." reports how the discovery that the beetle has now reached the southern hemisphere's largest plantation in the Russell Islands, made the country's Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle Taskforce ramp up its community campaign.

"The big issue at the moment: to try and persuade village farmers to change the habits of a lifetime," taskforce head Bob Macfarlane said. "In the past, they could let a palm die and fall down and rot. Now, every palm that dies must either be used in some way.” This is because the rhinoceros beetle larvae breed and feed on dead palm trees.

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