Gov’t approves four-year snail eradication programme

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Head of the Plant Protection Unit (PPU) Dr Janil Gore Francis said that the government has approved a four-year Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) to effect the steps necessary to eliminate the Giant African Snail, which has taken over about 40 per cent of the island.
Dr Gore Francis said that just under $1 million has been approved for the project and additional negotiations are under way for other materials.
“The Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda has also approved additional transportation and personnel to augment the programme as contained in the PSIP,” she said.
The recent developments came about as farmers express increased frustration over the slow pace of the Ministry of Agriculture to address the problem.
Dr Gore Francis said that prior to the approval of the PSIP, her department had been taking small steps to eradicate the snails, however, that approach has now been changed.
“We now have the PSIP and we are trying to play catch-up as it is because the snails are not waiting on us.”
A training component will also be included in the programme to educate local farmers on the correct application of baits which will be used as the main resource for the snail eradicaton programme.
Dr Gore Francis said this is necessary because the bait will be applied in larger quantities.
“The fact that we are going to have increased application in a shorter time means that the likelihood of contamination becomes even higher, so that is the concern. We have to control it to ensure that everybody is protected,” she said.
Farmers had initially complained that the Ministry of Agriculture was refusing to distribute the snail bait.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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