The Assistant Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Hon. Sakiusa Tubuna has urged for a more integrated approach as a way forward to controlling termite infestation.
He was speaking at a stakeholders meeting for termite control held at the Commissioner Western’s office in Lautoka yesterday (05.05.23).
Discussions at the stakeholders meeting centered around the eradication of termites, a challenge that has affected business operations and the residents in the sugar city over the years.
In late 2009 and early 2010, Fiji saw an outbreak of Asian Subterranean Termites (AST) in Lautoka and Labasa.
The Asian Subterranean Termite tunnels its way through the soil to its food source. AST establish colonies 6 – 18 feet underground making it difficult to detect them until damage signs are seen.
It is one of the most difficult species of termites in the world and the second most destructive.
The Lautoka and Labasa districts are recognised as Biosecurity Emergency areas for AST.
As a way forward, Hon. Tubuna has all agencies to consolidate efforts and work together in a bid to control termite infestation.
Moreover, assistance from external parties on the early detection of AST and rapid control measures to arrest its establishment and spread needs to be employed.
“The Coalition Government supports the efforts of the Biosecurity Authority of Fiji in its activities to address termite infestation and is committed to working with the relevant stakeholders to protect Fiji from further loss and damages,” Hon Tubuna added.
The Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, under its mandate and national obligation, has taken charge for the containment and control of Asian Subterranean Termite (AST) infestation and also put in place measures to prevent the spread of the termites from the Lautoka and Labasa districts to other parts of Fiji.
Biosecurity Authority of Fiji Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Michael Bartlett highlighted that with proper injection of technical expertise, funding and ongoing collaboration with government stakeholders and external stakeholders, Fiji will be successful in the containment and eradication of the termites.
At the stakeholders meeting, Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation, Hon. Sashi Kiran has urged a whole of government approach in ensuring effective plans are in place in the containment of the AST infestation.
Hon. Kiran also raised concerns that Fijians living below the poverty line, especially those in the squatter settlements are the most vulnerable to termite infestation and has appealed for collaborative efforts in raising awareness at the grassroot level.
The meeting was attended by stakeholder representatives from the Lautoka City Council, Lautoka Chamber of Commerce, Department of Town and Country Planning, Commissioner Western’s Office, Fiji Institute of Engineers, Ministry of Education, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, Ministry of Forestry and Ministry of Education.
An inspection of the Government quarters was then conducted to ascertain the damages caused by the termite infestation of which the collation of this data will be submitted as findings as a way forward to control the spread of the termites.
The termite swarming season is between August/September to November with the most affected region being Lautoka and Labasa.