Starting today, Monday, January 16th to February 2, farmers, community groups and others can collect giant African snails and get a reward of $5 per kilogramme (2.2 pounds) from the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries.
This as the ministry, through the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), has set aside three million dollars to deal with the eradication of the giant African snail (GAS) and other pests.
The invasive species, once caught, can be dropped off at two sites— County Caroni office at Southern Main Road, Chase Village in Chaguanas or County St George West office at Farm Road, Curepe, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8.30 am to 12 pm.
The ministry urges the public to use gloves or plastic bags, not their bare hands when collecting the snails. The ministry also wants the snails to be plastic bags, preferably transparent, and not feed bags.
“This pilot programme forms part of a multi-pronged approach to decrease the population of this pest,” a statement from line minister Kazim Hosein said over the weekend.
“After this phase, we will continue to reassess the problem and adapt solutions to ensure we achieve the results we envision. The education and sensitisation will continue while the other phases are being rolled out.”
The ministry received funding under the vote for “Surveillance and Control of Pernicious Pests and Diseases” to effectively manage pests such as the GAS, tuta absoluta (tomato leafminer), sweet potato weevil and locust.
The minister said the GAS is known to feed on over 500 different species of plants. It can be a tremendous nuisance and pose significant health, economic and food security (agricultural) risks to the country if left unabated.
“The Giant African Snail threatens our plants, our homes and our health and the food security of our nation,” he said.