About Two Million Red Palm Weevil Trapped in Local Abu Dhabi Farms During the First Half of 2013

WAM Abu Dhabi, 23rd July 2013 (WAM) – The Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Centre (ADFSC) has managed to trap about two million red palm weevil in local farms of Abu Dhabi during the first half of 2013 within the frame of the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Project to manage pests that attack palm trees particularly red palm weevil by minimizing use of pesticides and instead relying on better tree management and by catching the pests in traps.

This project is being implemented by ADSFC in coordination with Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and continues until the end of 2014.

The Project covers all farms of Abu Dhabi estimated to be 23050 farms. The approximate number of pheromone traps installed on the farms following correct scientific practices is 118797.

This project focuses on the implementation of an integrated range of procedures and processes including the installation and maintenance of pheromone traps, technical advisory and building the capacities of workers in the agriculture field to enable them to manage pests, install and maintain light traps at a later stage, treat infested trees and remove severely attacked trees. The project aims to collect real data on the Red Palm Weevil any similar pests to better guide development of preventative measures and to reduce reliance on pesticides. Instead, the pests are lured to a trap by the use of naturally occurring hormones where they can be captured and then destroyed. This is much better for the environment and safer for the date fruits being produced.

The “Red Palm Weevil is one of the serious pests which attack date palms in the Arab Gulf and represents a direct threat to dates producers and trees alike as the insects lay their eggs on the date palm and then the larvae that develop burrow into the tree and severely hinder its growth”, Mr. Christopher Hirst, ADFSC CEO said. “The difficulty is to detect this insect at an early stage before it lays its eggs and before the severe damage to palm trees and date yield occurs”. He added.

He further stated that the increasing numbers of attacks by this pest pushed the Abu Dhabi Government to reassess previous control programs which relied on pesticides primarily and to initiate alternate preventive measures to prevent the damage or threat to palm trees and dates production such as the pheromone traps installation and maintenance project implemented in coordination between ADFCA and the ADFSC.

The project is monitored by a team of agricultural engineers supported by a team of trained staff and supervisors who are equipped with all tools and means to guarantee the success and continuity of the project in all regions of the Abu Dhabi Emirate. The ADFSC has allocated experienced engineers to supervise 31 work teams; each team is composed of a controller and four staff members to implement the campaign and is allocated a vehicle equipped with a GPS device to increase the supervisors’ capacity to follow-up and track work accurately and to provide up to the minute information on the pest population. Moreover, every team was given a tablet computer to enter and analyze data electronically instead of using the traditional manual way, to reduce the possibilities of human errors.

Abu Dhabi Farmers’ Services Center CEO stated that the pheromone traps approach is one of the successful methods in knowing the numbers of red palm weevil and together with better tree management, including correct trimming of leaves and leaf bases and removal of excess side shoots is helping to reduce pest numbers. The traps are continuously monitored and maintained regularly to ensure the goals of the campaign are being achieved. The regular maintenance of the trap by farm staff, including maintaining water levels inside the trap is very important to keep the trap operating effectively while ADFSC staff change the pheromone and catch and count the red weevils in the trap before destroying them. A number of 101187 farm visits were carried out during the first half of this year, on which 580784 pheromone traps were maintained and 1.72 million red palm weevil were trapped and exterminated.

The project has included an extension campaign comprised of: field days, distribution of extension posters to increase the awareness of farm owners and workers about the red weevil and its devastating impact and the importance of control by integrated management of the palm trees to avoid injury. The plant health and agricultural processes are important components of IPM programs for control of the red weevil through several processes, including continuous cleaning and removal of the dry date palm fronds and the good pruning at the right time and in the correct manner, to avoid injuring parts of the tree.

Careful pruning of the date palm tree to control growth, including removal of excess sideshoots helps to prevent potential sites for the insect to infect the tree. Removed sideshoots need to be cleaned and examined closely for any signs of red weevil larvae before being treated with appropriate pesticides in a controlled manner before replanting into a new site to ensure that there is no carryover of pests from one area to another. It is also important to have the trees planted at an appropriate spacing, adequate irrigation applications without overwatering and growing strongly with a balanced fertilizer programme so that the tree is healthy and better able to cope with stress and resist pest and disease attack.

WAM/TF

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