By ANGELINE KARIUS
COPRA production could be drastically affected by up to 80% from the effect of the Bogia coconut syndrome, The National reports.
Provincial adviser Savi Godfried said the disease could easily wipe out most of the production yield from the coconut industry in the province.
He said the insect causing the disease was yet to be identified and authorities were awaiting the results of samples sent to Australia and the United Kingdom for testing.
"Our scientists are working to find the cause of and solution to the disease," he said.
Godfried said the disease, which spread from one coconut tree to another, could prove costly to the rural farmers.
"Their chidren's school fees, medical and food sources will be affected," he said.
The coconut trees affected have their leaves turn brown, lose the nuts and the crown eventually falling off.
A public notice had been issued to warn locals of a possible epidemic.
Godfried said trees bearing betelnut and bananas had also been affected by the mysterious bug.
Meanwhile, the cocoa pod borer has spread to Karkar Island.
"Gradually, it will affect plantations along the North Coast," Godfried said.
"Our current strategy is to empower communities to consider the application of pest disease management.
"The best practice management to improve cocoa condition in respective location includes cutting grass, digging drains, pruning shades, pruning cocoa trees, regular harvesting of dry pods, regular removal of dry and disease pods and burying infected pods."