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Voracious snail wiping out Antigua crops

Captured Giant African Snails.

Captured Giant African Snails.

ST. JOHN’S — There is increasing anxiety among farmers on the southern side of the island, whose crops are falling prey to the deadly Giant African Snail.

The predator, discovered here in 2008, is wiping out crops in the Jennings community, and has prompted an urgent call for government to tackle the problem.

The ravenous giant snails that emerge from the ground by night are thriving on the crops in the community, leaving farmers to count their losses.

The farmers say weekly, they collect hundreds of thousands of African Snails, which swarm their farms damaging bananas, potatoes and other crops.

The infestation first reported in December last year, has intensified since the recent heavy rains and according to one farmer, Janet Cornelius, this has made matters worse.

“Every time the rain comes down, it gets worse and worse,” she said. “Right now, they’re eating down everything.”

Meanwhile, head of the Plant Protection Unit, Dr. Janill Gore Francis noted that her department is handicapped due to the lack of transportation to conduct its work in the fields.

She is however encouraging farmers to purchase the bait and follow the instructions carefully before applying it to the affected areas.

The snails are known to consume as many as 500 different types of plants and can transmit meningitis.

The Giant African Snail was first detected in the Jolly Hill area in 2008 by the Plant Protection Unit.

The snails, native to Africa but found in parts of Asia, have been discovered in other Caribbean islands, including St Lucia, Martinique and Guadeloupe. (Antigua Observer)

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