The Kokonas Indastri Koporesen (KIK) and Centre for Agriculture Bioscience International (CABI) held the PNG Coconut Industry Biosecurity Project Inception Workshop from the 12 to 15th March 2019 at the Madang Resort. Other stakeholder agencies including National Agriculture Quarantine and Inspection Authority (NAQIA), National Agriculture Research Institute (NARI), Ramu Agro Industry (RAI), PNG customs and the Madang Provincial Government were also part of the seminar.
This project was initiated with the first consultation meetings between the two organizations on the fringes of a CocoTech Conference hosted by the International Coconut Community (ICC) in 2017 at Bali, Indonesia. Further consultations occurred in 2018 which led to the signing of an MOU between KIK and CABI on January 2019.
CABI is an international non-profit organization focused on improving people’s lives worldwide by solving problems in agriculture and the environment. It was founded in 1910 and has dedicated teams and key partners in 49 countries across the world that create and deliver curate knowledge that addresses challenges faced by farmers.
Quarantine plays an important role in pre-entry of pest and diseases. Pest and disease entry are transferred mainly by vehicles, boats/ships, by cargo or by human transportation, either by vectoring directly or indirectly. Pest and disease outbreaks are caused either by an imbalance in the ecosystem or by environmental cues such as climate change or by natural disasters.
The foremost concern for the coconut industry is that 2.6 million Papua New Guineans rely on the nut for both food and income generation. In terms of economic importance, the coconut industry is a multimillion-kina industry in PNG. On an annual basis export revenue averages at K110 million while domestic trade averages at K190 million which makes it a K300 million industry. An estimated area of 221, 000 hectares comprises of coconuts in the country. Based on these important livelihood and economic factors KIK has taken this strategic initiative to reinforce its biosecurity defenses.
According to the Secretariat of Pacific Communities (SPC) Pest List Database, PNG is home to more than 74 species of coconut pest and diseases. These pest and diseases classify themselves into; Arthropods- 58 reported species, Fungi-11 reported species, Bacteria-2 reported species, Phytoplasma- 1 reported species, and Weeds- 2 reported species. Though the species diversity is high, adequate management practices have minimized the risk of these pests and diseases become of economic significance. Hence the reported pest and diseases of economic Importance is reduced to 24.
Desktop study carried out on comparative distributions via available databases reported that there are 32 coconut pests of economic importance in the world. Of this 32, 15 are present in PNG and 17 are still out there in other parts of the world therefore it is hazardous to our border security. All pest and diseases have the potential of entry and poses a threat to the economy if not adequately managed.
Presently there are three (3) focal factors which causes fatalities in coconuts. Firstly about 20-25% loss in coconut production is done by pest and diseases. Secondly, Nutrient deficiency, toxicity, and moisture stress due to high temperatures causes a 5-10% loss to the productivity to coconuts. The last factor is triggered by natural calamities such as floods, drought and cyclones which reduce 5-10% of coconuts due to stress.
The two major threats to coconuts in PNG currently are the coconut Rhinoceros Beetle (CRB) and the Bogia Coconut Syndrome (BCS). Continued surveillance, monitoring and management of existing pests and diseases of coconuts in PNG remains a challenge to responsible authorities like KIK, NAQIA and RAI from the Palm Oil Industry.
To strengthen biosecurity in PNG, the key is to be assess and know the pests of high risk moreover to execute preventative measures for their entry. The biosecurity plan framework aims to conduct a risk analysis of pest’s exotic to coconuts in Papua New Guinea in addition develop a comprehensive biosecurity risk management and emergency response plan for the coconut industry in Papua New Guinea. The main goal is to ensure that the PNG coconut industry has: the capacity to reduce the risks of pests; and to react effectively to any pest and disease threats. Hence, the Biosecurity plan is a vital point for the future sustainability and viability of the coconut industry.
Work on the Biosecurity Plan has just commenced and is set to be completed before the end of 2019.