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NMC CREES Awarded $24K for Slug Control Project on Rota (April 16, 2008)

As part of its efforts to study and curb the spread of harmful slugs, the Northern Marianas College Cooperative Research Extension and Education Service (CREES) recently secured a grant totaling $23,673 from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) Program.

Entitled “Comparative Study of Cuban Slugs Suppression Using Grazing Ducks, Neem Extracts and Chemical Baits in the CNMI,” the project aims to explore and demonstrate cost-effective, environmentally-friendly, and sustainable alternative practices to slug and pest control in vegetable production.

The project is led by Alejandro E. Badilles, NMC-CREES Integrated Pest Management Coordinator for the CNMI. He is joined by three Rota producers that include Nurul Islam Paeda, Jack Manglona and Maria Fujihira.

According to Badilles, the agricultural losses from Cuban slugs on Rota have been substantial, and the costs for appropriate corrective measures prohibitive. Many farmers have already abandoned their fields because of the prevalence of slugs. Additionally, the increasing presence of slugs will continue to threaten Rota’s agricultural viability and image as a nature sanctuary.

“Mr. Badilles’s work will have far-reaching benefits, especially in the preservation of lively, agricultural activity in the CNMI,” said NMC President Dr. Carmen Fernandez. “We are proud of his achievements and those of his team and look forward to his research findings.”

One method that is being examined as a means to slow the spread of slugs is to employ the use of ducks as predators for the slugs. The ducks have not only the advantage of clearing weeds, fertilizing the ground, providing farmers with eggs, but they also eat any slugs and pests that they encounter. Ducks do little damage to crops, and have been used in the Far East for centuries to clear slugs and snails from rice and vegetable fields.

The planting and use of Neem trees will also be used as a means of providing readily available organic pesticides to fight the pests. Researchers have recently been extolling the Neem trees’ benefits, saying that Neem trees could be called wonder trees. This wonder tree has pesticide, germicidal, and medicinal properties and is capable of solving many problems. Therefore, an increased commercial plantation and agro-forestry involving Neem trees can enhance the economical potential of this tree with positive and large externalities for pesticides, fertilizers, livestock, dairying, and other value-added products.

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