Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bee mite continues to rule hives

The Highlands Farmers and Settlers Association has refuted claims by James Watson of Goroka-based New Guinea Fruit Company on the absence of the bee mite disease in Papua New Guinea.

Secretary Wilson Thompson and Eastern Highlands Beekeepers Association president Jonah Buka said the Asian bee was the natural host of the mite, was now in the country, and the colonised European bee was now becoming the alternate host.

“We have seeen that the bee mite has affected actual colonies in Goroka and Daulo districts in Eastern Highlands province,” they said.

“This was reported to the National Agriculture Quarantine Inspection Authority to independently verify a Department of Agriculture and Livestock report.

“NAQIA confirmed the impact and destruction of bee colonies in other districts of Eastern Highlands.

“A training workshop was organised in Goroka and more recently, last December, another was held at Aiyura, comprising DAL, NAQIA, National Agriculture Research Institute, Highlands Farmers and Settlers Association, Eastern Highlands Beekeepers Association and Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research on how to address this issue.

“We have, through the leadership of the Highlands director of DAL Mawe Gonapa, established a regional task force on the disease and its impact.

“Mr Watson, being a major bee farmer and buyer of honey, should just these groups and talk about how to address the problem rather than claiming that it does not exist.

“If the mite does not exist on his bees, as he claims, then he must come out and show us how he is doing this, so that other farmers can apply his techniques.

“It has been confirmed that the disease has taken its toll on honey production, hence, the price per kg has risen from K7 to K10.”

Mr Thompson and Mr Buka commended DAL, NAQIA, and NARI, who have allocated resources, together with partner organisations, to conduct awareness, training, surveillance and research into this problem.

This is particularly in regards to the impact of the bee on introduced crops such as coffee, cocoa, copra, palm oil and pyrethrum.


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