BY JOHN CHRISMA
RURAL cocoa farmers in the Sagalu Ward, North West Guadalcanal are worried as rats are eating up their cocoa pods, which may destroy the productivity of their cocoa plantations.
The farmers are now calling for the government’s speedy invention through the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to assist rural cocoa farmers in North West Guadalcanal with rat killers to immediately respond and eradicate the reported incursions.
Cocoa farmer and buyer, John Bingoto, a resident of Pisei village in Aruligho, said hectares of cocoa plantations have been destroyed, adding that farmers are afraid that the rat invasion may go worst and affect the productivity of cocoa plants and pods.
He said as of last year, the rats destroyed almost every ripe pods in their plantations.
“Cocoa farmers in the particular region have tried every best innovative practice to control and manage the invasion of the rats but have failed due to lack of money to purchase rat killers and hire labor to eradicate the problem,” John Bingoto told Environment media.
John said the cost of damage is unbearable; my three hectares of cocoa plantation has been destroyed and it’s a challenge to control and eradicate such a cunning rodent.
“It was very tough to control such a cunning animal in a huge plantation.
“My family and I worked extreme hours in terms of pruning all tree branches that hang over or close to the ground to prevent rats from jumping or flying over and also by removing leaves away from the sides of the cocoa trees to provide less cover for rats to hide but it seems impossible,” he complained.
The production and marketing of cocoa is a major source of livelihood for Guadalcanal rural farmers particularly to meet basic and immediate needs for their children like school fees, bus fares, etc.
“The farmers are now worried of the prospect to earn low income from the sales of their cocoa products especially in saving money to send their children to begin academic classes for this year,” John said.