Tunis, Tunisia – Treatment against Red Palm Weevil in the streets of Tunis, 2013. ©FAO/Daniel Beaumont
Red Palm Weevil (RPW) is a key pest of palms originating from South and South East Asian Countries that has significantly expanded its geographical and host range during the last three decades. In the Near East, which is a main date palm production region, RPW is causing widespread damage to date palm Phoenix dactylifera L., and affecting date palm production, which is having a serious impact on the livelihoods of farmers as well as the environment.
Its rapid spread is due in part to weak quarantine procedures and difficulties in the early detection of Red Palm Weevil-infested plant materials. This pest has been spreading globally and has not been effectively managed in spite of several efforts and resources provided by countries and organizations. Extensive research has also been conducted on the management of RPW.
Today, there are many control measures based on conventional and innovative technologies, organized into several control actions or management strategies. However, the failure to manage RPW in most of the countries can be attributed to the lack of awareness and lack of systematic and coordinated control actions or management strategies that involve all stakeholders, attributed to inadequate human and financial resources available to combat the pest.
A good strategy supported with adequate resources, systematic planning, good coordination, and involvement of all stakeholders can lead to the eradication of RPW as witnessed in the Canary Islands of Spain. There, the pest has been eradicated since 2013 and the last foci was declared free of RPW during May 2016. In Mauritania, the Government’s quick action, with the support of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to control the pest and the Integrated Pest Management strategy implemented with active participation of the farmers, farmer cooperatives, and other stakeholders, has contained RPW in the original foci of infestation within a year of implementing the program, with a good potential for early eradication.
Over the years, FAO has provided technical assistance to enhance cooperation and knowledge sharing between countries in the Near East and North Africa Region, and to strengthen the capacities of the countries for the management of Red Palm Weevil to reduce and prevent its spread. However, to enhance the coordination and cooperation between the countries and tackle this pest at a global level, FAO and the International Center for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies (CIHEAM) organized a Scientific Consultation and High Level Meeting on Red Palm Weevil control in March 2017. This resulted in a Framework strategy for eradication of RPW.
The Framework strategy for eradication of RPW addresses phytosanitary (quarantine) measures; early detection; surveillance and monitoring, preventive agronomic practices such as mechanical sanitation, preventive insecticide application, curative insecticide treatments, mass trapping, biological control, and disposal of highly infested palms; data management and GIS; capacity building, communication and extension services; research and development; and monitoring and evaluation.
This strategy, supported with adequate human and financial resources, systematic planning, good coordination and involvement of all stakeholders, and sensible use of new technologies, can lead to the containment of Red Palm Weevil.
To learn more about the Framework Strategy, click here.