With spring approaching, the battle for nut and citrus harvests is being resumed
Preparations are underway in Abkhazia for a new stage in the battle with the menacing agricultural pest, the brown marmorated stink bug. The battle against these bugs has been ongoing for three years with mixed success. Almost the entire 2017 harvest of hazelnuts and citrus was destroyed in Abkhazia.
A decision was made to renew a project that was implemented as an experiment in spring 2018: the population is encouraged to gather up the stink bugs and turn them in at a price of 1,000 rubles (around $15) per kilogram.
“The government is going to allocate seven million rubles (around $105,000) towards this project,” said Abkhazia’s minister of agriculture, Amiran Kaklia.
Collection of the insects is scheduled to begin at the start of spring when the bugs begin to emerge from their winter hibernation. Experts say that it makes sense to do this in early spring, as the stink bugs are sluggish after hibernation and it’s easier to catch them.
The brown marmorated stink bug appeared in Abkhazia four years ago, and since then has done serious damage to local agriculture. According to official data, the number of tangerines and hazelnuts – Abkhazia’s primary agricultural crops – produced in the republic has fallen by 30 per cent. A slight improvement was noted in 2018 thanks to large-scale programmes that were implemented for fighting the pests. These programmes were financed by the United Nations Development Programme as well as via the Russian state’s budget.
A special state of quarantine was put into effect on the Russo-Abkhaz border in March 2018, and for several months there was a ban on taking fruits and vegetables from Abkhazia to Russia via hand luggage.
Many specialists assert that the most effective method of combatting the brown marmorated stink bug is their physical collection and destruction. In light of this, the decision was made to launch the project in 2019.
In 2018, more than five tonnes of the stink bugs were turned in.
The stink bug invasion has also caused great problems in the western regions of Georgia, where the effects are being called catastrophic and where a large-scale struggle against the pest is also underway.