Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- The fight to control the hibiscus mealy bug which has attacked sugarcane, coffee and cocoa crops in many Latin' Carribean countries, seems to he a losing one. Reportedly, the pest has spread to other areas causing more havoc. Methods to contain the spread has i@Lcliided the use of the Chinese wasp and a ladybird beetle. Describing the problem, Janice Reid, an entomologist at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, "The number of these ladybird beetles is still small because - they were imported in small numbers and have to be multiplied."

Apart from Grenada, where the bug was first identified, Trinidad and Tobago, St Kitts and Jamaica are also infected. Entomologists believe that the pest could move on to Venezuela, Barbados and St Vincent.

The crop disease has affected agricultural trade to a large extent, as many countries have banned the import of food products from the affected areas. While the Cayman Islands has become the latest country to impose. the ban, the us department oIf agriculture is toying with the idea. Meanwhile, scientists and government officials in the region will meet shortly to discuss effective methods to eradicate the mealy bug.

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