Nationwide effort needed to win the battle against the Giant African Snail

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The entire community must be involved to win the on-going fight against the Giant African Snail population, according to plant protection unit staff.
First discovered in Bolans and Jolly Hill in 2008, the government has tried to eradicate the pest, but unit staff said it lacked resources, bait and transportation to deal with the problem. Meanwhile, the snails continued to multiply to the point where the infestation has reached epidemic proportions, forcing authorities within the plant protection unit to now look to the community for help.
After being postponed from the original date, the unit reset the national collection exercise for December 2 and 3 and is asking everyone to get involved.
“If we do not handle it in this way, it will get worse,” warned Janil Gore-Francis, head of the plant protection unit.
Staff is encouraging community and church groups to register to be a part of the collection process, especially those who live in areas with the highest snail infestations so that they can be assigned to designated collection areas.
“The community groups could also let us know where is the best collection area, and they will also be responsible for advising group members about where they are to place the bags after collection,” Gore-Francis said.
“Once the snails die, they get very smelly. So, we are trying to get them removed within an hour after collection,” between 5 and 8 a.m. on specified days.
Gore-Francis said collected snails will be placed in garbage bags and doused with salt, which will eventually kill the voracious predator. Once the bags are properly secured, they will then be collected for proper disposal.
For years, farmers and homeowners have expressed frustrations about the plant-devouring pest, capable of wiping out all crops on a farm in just one night. Some affected farmers have also tried their own traditional and unique methods to get rid of the snails, but have thrown in the towel out of frustration.
Recently the owners of early childhood centres have also joined the call to control the pest, which has now found a home in the yards of preschools.
One of the reasons why residents dread the snail’s arrival in their communities is because the pest can multiply very rapidly. One adult snail can lay approximately 200 eggs at least three times per year, with the hatching rate at approximately 90 percent.

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