Reds call for action to control whiteflies

By Rathindra Kuruwita

Whiteflies are destroying Sri Lanka’s coconut industry, Education Secretary of the Frontline Socialist Party (FSP), Pubudu Jagoda says.Addressing the media in Colombo on Wedneday, Jagoda said the white flies had a 40 to 60 day life span.

Jagoda said there werethree government institutions responsible for looking after the coconut industry. One deals with exports, but the other two, the Coconut Development Board and the Coconut research Institute must take steps to address the unprecedented crisis, he said.

“The whitefly first became a menace in South America and then spread to North America in the 1990s. And then it spread to Africa. All these countries managed to control it. Then it came to the Maldives in 2002 and to India in 2016. These two countries also have it under control. So, this is not a new pest and there are many resources to combat this problem,” he said.

The whitefly was identified in Kegalle in 2019 and it has been four years but no effective solution has been found by responsible bodies to tackle the menace. The entire coconut triangle has been affected, he said. Coconut research Institute has introduced several compounds to tackle the menace, including a neem oil and soap mixture, thiomethoxam (Actara), carbosulfan (Marshal 20) and a mixture of chlorantraniliprole and thiomethoxam (Virtako 40G), Jagoda said.

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