SOME 80,000 rai (32,000 acres) of coconut land on Koh Samui are now free of pests that threatened to wipe out the island’s coconut trees.

Chartchai Phookayaporn, deputy minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, said the coconut is a very important, high-value crop and that it serves as the symbol of Koh Samui as an international tourist destination. “Coconut pests, such as rice hispa and weevils, had been causing damage to the crop and hurting coconut farmers, who lost income,” Chartchai said.

Because of this, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives assigned the department of agriculture and department of agriculture extension to work with related local offices on both Samui and Phangan to find ways to eradicate these pests.

The coconut pest control project was able to successfully eliminate the problem, he said.

Last year a new coconut pest caused by the black-headed caterpillar was also discovered on Samui. The caterpillar ate away young coconut leaves and reduced coconut yields.

The departments of agriculture and of agriculture extension instructed the local farmers to cut off and burn the infested coconut leaves. This proved to be effective in reducing the spread of the new coconut pest.
“The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives sees the coconut pest problem on Koh Samui as a vital issue and we are continually seeking ways to eradicate the pest,” Chartchai said.

“Now I can say that we have controlled the outbreak and the situation is not so severe as before,” he added.

Over 32,000 acres of coconut land with a business value of Bt200 million has been saved, the official said.