The Trinidad Guardian / Will the Ministry of Agriculture, the EMA and the Ministry of Health become more serious about protecting our communities from the Giant African Snail? This foreign pest is an environmental and health problem.

The rainy season is here and I am worried about the continued infestation of the Giant African Snails particularly in my community, Mt Lambert.

There are hard copy and online flyers which say “Since its discovery in 2008, the Giant African Snail is confined to a few areas: the Diego Martin Valley, Maraval, Invaders Bay, Mt. Lambert, Aranjuez North and South and Barataria. To eradicate this pest, it is critical that it does not spread to other areas”.

The cautions on the flyer are very clear: “Do not move any snails out of the area. Do not move live plants/plant debris or soil out of the area. Any material (construction, rubble, steel, tyres, old vehicles, etc.) to be moved out of the area should be inspected by the Ministry of Food Production personnel. Do not put any snails in the garbage. Do not throw any snails in the water ways (drains, canals or rivers)”.

There were also ads on prime time TV but they seem to be no more.

Of the districts mentioned in the flyer Mt. Lambert, Aranjuez North and South and Barataria lie within a part of Trinidad, stretching from Streatham Lodge to Barataria, which is an area most suitable for vegetable farming.

It means that with the presence of the Giant African Snail we run the risk of losing crops at a time when we are being urged to pay more attention to agriculture, whether on a commercial scale or home gardening.

It also means that citizens are in danger of being infected with the disease which the snails carry.

Most of the residents have complied with the flyers, which also say that the snail is “a notifiable pest in Trinidad and Tobago.

I have spoken to the voices on the other end of ministry’s hotline. Agriculture officials visited our community. They captured hundreds of snails (no exaggeration), then applied a chemical which later killed some snails but after each visit the snails re-appeared with a vengeance.

My neighbours and I have cleansed our yards. We have collected snails day and night. We seeded our premises with snail and slug killer to no avail.

At my last call (the 4th one!) to the ministry, I was told that I have to help myself by collecting snails, dunking them in brine and then burning them.

I have done so but it is not good enough. Our area suffers from annual flooding and the eggs of snails are going to hatch out.

In the not distant past, this country had to go through the ravages of the mealybug. For obvious reasons, I want to start my home garden. But what are we to do about this plague of snails?

Aiyegoro Om


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