CARACAS, Jul 7 (Tierramérica).- The "ácaro rojo" (Raoiella indica), an insect measuring just 0.3 millimeters, has devastated several hundred hectares planted with coconut palms on Venezuela's northwest and northeast coast, reports the government's autonomous agricultural health service.
"It gathers on the leaves of the palm, sucking its sap, weakening the foliage and obstructing production of the fruit," Layla Vera, of the service's office in the northeastern state of Sucre, told Tierramérica.
Dominican agronomist Juan Castellanos noted that this insect, originating in Asia and Africa, reached the Americas via the Caribbean island of Martinique in 2003, and from there spread to Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadalupe, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Venezuela and the southeastern U.S. state of Florida.
Uniting Against Salmon Farms
SANTIAGO, Jul 7 (Tierramérica).- Business leaders, artisanal fishers, tourism operators, students and citizen organizations in Puerto Natales, in the southern Chilean region of Magallanes, have created the Salmon-Farm Free Patagonia Association.
The entity, founded on Jun. 28, calls on the government to decree an end to the expansion of salmon farming in the country's southernmost zone, where 17 farms are already operating and where more than 1,000 fish farm permits have been requested.
"We are asking for a moratorium until an environmental and social impact study of salmon farming can be conducted," because we have seen the massive layoffs caused in the southern regions of Los Lagos and Aysén by infectious salmon anemia, association member Romano Tótoro told Tierramérica.
Regional Network for Sustainable Forests
HAVANA, Jul 7 (Tierramérica).- Cuba officially joined the Regional Network of Model Forests of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-Net) on Jul. 5 through a project to cultivate tropical plants on 30,000 hectares in the central province of Villa Clara.
Aníbal Torrecilla, an expert with the forest service of the Agriculture Ministry, told Tierramérica that the tree planting will take place over 15 years in Corralillo and Santo Domingo, the territory's areas of greatest "forestry potential".
"The government has expressed its will to continue increasing the country's forest cover and to directly benefit the community, which will contribute labor and will be able to improve living conditions in harmony with nature," said Torrecilla.
The plan is supported by the Canadian Agency for International Development.
Fighting Chagas Disease
TEGUCIGALPA, Jul 7 (Tierramérica).- Honduras is working with Canada to put together 60 million dollars in funding for ecological and health projects in areas where Chagas disease is endemic. The illness has spread from rural areas to urban areas of the capital.
Of that sum, which is expected to be delivered by year end, 18 million would be earmarked for fighting the disease, and the rest for educational activities for environmental conservation, as well as environmentally friendly productive projects, Karen Zelaya, head of the Technical Secretariat for Cooperation, told Tierramérica.
She said education is important in the regions where Chagas has expanded due to causes linked to poverty, hygiene and homes made of mud and straw, in which the disease-spreading Triatoma infestans insect lays its eggs.
There are some 300,000 people affected by the disease in Honduras, particularly in the south and west. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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