One can earn USD 20 per kg of agricultural pests - pests which are capable of disrupting the export of Abkhazian produce to Russia
The brown marmorated stink bug, an agricultural pest which has been plaguing Abkhazia, may serve as a source of income. Within the next two weeks the bugs will be purchased from the population for scientific purposes at a price of RUB 1 000 (around USD 18) per kilo.
Jambulat Khatuov, the Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, announced the aforesaid at a meeting in Sukhumi. During the meeting participants focused on coordinating Russian and Abkhazian specialists’ efforts in combating the bug.
“A large amount of bugs will be obtained for lab tests in two weeks. The Russian side has set the price of RUB 1 000 per kilo of brown marmorated bugs as an additional incentive for the population. Bugs are required for additional scientific studies that need to be done quickly before the air temperature reaches a certain degree,” stressed Jambulat Khatuov.
According to the Russian official, the results of the aforesaid studies will return to Abkhazia in the form of effective insect traps. In addition, Russia pledges to provide humanitarian aid to Abkhazia, supplying it with handheld and backpack-type sprayers and five types of chemicals.
Monitoring was conducted earlier throughout Abkhazia with the assistance of Russian experts.
“Stink bugs recovering from winter anabiosis have been found in each region. Thus we can conclude that there are stink bugs in Abkhazia and it’s necessary to fight them,” said Petr Chekmarev, Director of the Department of Plant Production at the Russian Agriculture Ministry. “Russia shares a rather lengthy border with Abkhazia. Therefore combating the brown marmorated stink bug is not only of relevance for Abkhazia [but for Russia as well].”
A special quarantine was introduced at the Russian-Abkhazian border on 12 March. Russia has temporarily banned all hand carried imports of fruits and vegetables from Abkhazia.
he brown marmorated stink bug first appeared in Abkhazia four years ago and caused severe damage to the local agriculture sector. According to official data, the amount of tangerines and hazelnuts (Abkhazia’s major agricultural crops) produced in Abkhazia dropped by 70% in 2017.
In 2018, Abkhazia allocated RUB 20 million (about USD 400 000) for combating the bugs. Some international organizations, including the UNDP, have also rendered financial assistance to Abkhazia in this regard.
“To defeat the bugs we should train highly-qualified agronomists, entomologists, as well as upgrade our outdated fleet of specialized equipment; only then will we get any results.”
The Abkhazian Minister of Agriculture Daur Tarba called for the population’s active involvement in combating the bugs. Otherwise, as he put it, ‘Russia is likely to close its borders to our agricultural produce.’
“In April, the brown marmorated bugs will recover from diapause and will start flying. There won’t be many of them yet, and therefore it won’t be hard to fight them. It all will start in July,” said Roman Dbar, Director of the Institute of Ecology.
The environmentalist believes that the entire plant protection system needs to be updated to ensure the effective fight against various pests. “It’s necessary to train highly-qualified personnel, agronomists, entomologists, as well as to upgrade our outdated fleet of specialized equipment. Only then will we get certain results,” said Dbar.
The idea of procuring stink bugs from the population was ridiculed on the Abkhaz social media.
“How much does a single bug weigh? I think that after the winter starvation it will weigh less than 1g. How are people supposed to collect over 1 000 bugs? If they had known it they would have made bug preserves in winter, when the latter rushed to houses for wintering en masse. It’s a real bummer for those who killed those bugs for nothing.”
“I suppose this ‘good’ initiative may encourage our businessmen to open bug-farms.”
“Well, I can’t tell what the situation’s like in this regard here, but in Zugdidi people already have ‘hopped to it’. A certain Integral Ltd. company has started purchasing stink bugs for RUB 500 per kilo, apparently with the aim of further reselling them in Abkhazia to gain more profit.”
“We should immediately introduce sanctions for stink bug smuggling.”