Quarantine on date palms extended to eight governorates in Oman

Red Palm Weevil (RPW), one of the most dangerous pests of date palm trees

Muscat - 

The increase in spread of Red Palm Weevil (RPW), one of the most dangerous pests of date palm trees, has led the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MoAF) to expand the agriculture quarantine to eight governorates from six where it was already in force.

In a ministerial decision (90/2013) issued on March 27, the ministry enforced the quarantine in Barka in South Batinah, while Sinaw in North Sharqiyah was added to the list in November 2012. The quarantine was already in force in Musandam, Buraimi, Dakhliyah, North Batinah, South Sharqiyah and Dhahirah governorates.

The quarantine prohibits the transportation of date palm offshoots and trees from the prohibited areas. The decision states that the ban will be in place till the time the disease that warranted the quarantine is under control. “It will be in place till the time it is ascertained that the infestation of the date palm trees is fully under control, which could stretch for a long period,” said Suleiman Mahfoudh al Tobi, director, Plant Quarantine Department, MoAF.

Tobi said that a national project to control RPW has involved farmers where several groups are conducting surveys while others are engaged in destroying the infested plants. “Plants in early stages of infestation are treated with pesticides, while those in advance stage of the disease are cut and burnt.”

He added that quarantine in some areas like Buraimi has been there for last 20 years. “It takes a long time to eradicate the infestation that is why quarantine in an area lasts for a few years. And during this time, the area is continuously monitored.”

Tobi explained that RPW is an insect, which is dangerous for date palms as whole trunk is eaten up by the larvae, which begin life inside the palm and normally never come to the surface.

He added that the disease is in check in areas like Buraimi, Sur and Samail where quarantine is in force. “We have to keep areas once infested under strict observation and remove the ban only after making sure that the disease has been eradicated.”

Tobi said that the infestation originated in South Asia and rapidly spread to Europe and Middle East in the 1990s. “Since then it is one of the major causes for death of date palms in the country.”

An adult RPW is reddish-brown, measuring about 35mm in length and bears a prominent snout A female date palm weevil lays eggs into the wounds created by harvesting, pruning and off-shoots removal, mostly in palms 6-15 years old.

A female lays 200-300 eggs, but it is the emerging larvae, which are responsible for the entire damage as they eat up the soft trunk fibre leading to the death of the tree.

The Red Palm Weevil menace

Governorate             Wilayats

Musandam        Khasab, Dibba, Bukha and Madha

Buraimi             Buraimi, Mahdah and Al Sininah

Dakhliyah          Samail

North Batinah          Sohar, Shinas, Liwa, Saham and Khabourah

South Batinah          Barka

North Sharqiyah      Niyabat of Sinaw in Mudhaibi

South Sharqiyah      Sur

Dhahirah           Ibri, Yanqul and Dhank

muscat daily recycle