Prior to being elected as the Member of Parliament for Couva North, during the 2020 election campaign season, constituents complained about the Giant African Snail. From then to now, I have been inundated with photos, videos, telephone calls, whatsapp messages, and various other communications via social media concerning the absolute infestation in Couva North of this invasive pest which I have personally witnessed even on the compound of the Couva North Constituency Office.
There are many informative and researched articles available on the snail, the dangers of its presence and the threat posed by its spread. The foremost of these is that the snail, a fertile hermaphrodite, feeds on over 500 plant types and is a carrier of the parasite known to cause meningitis in humans.
Research indicates that some time aback, a task force was set up as a joint effort between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries to deal with the Giant African Snail. However, information at hand is that these Government Ministries are woefully under resourced and, apart from hosting a public education campaign and a hotline, they are unable to keep up with eradication efforts. Citizens must therefore resort to eradicating the snail on their own.
This, however, poses a distinct problem to farmers who must now bear the additional cost of purchasing the requisite chemicals to ensure that their crops are not infested by these snails carrying the rat lungworm that can infect persons with eosinophillic meningitis, a disease affecting the human brain and spinal cord, which can prove fatal.
The threat of this invasive pest is not one to be ignored and I encourage all citizens to educate themselves regarding the Giant African Snail and how to eradicate it. Such information can be found in the articles referenced below. Citizens can also call the Ministry hotline at: 646-6284 or 639-4616.
Further, I call on the Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries to ensure that sufficient funding and resources are given by way of the 2021 budget allocation, so that eradication efforts can be stepped up by the Giant African Snail Task Force/Pest Control Unit, as well as by farmers and the general public.