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Ruling Party MP Says Gov’t is not Aware of Asian Stink Bug Danger

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, February 22
Otar Danelia, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agrarian Issues, who is also the MP of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, says the government is not well aware how large-scale problem faces Georgia in terms of dangerous agricultural pest — the Asian stink bug, which devastated nearly the whole nut harvest in the western regions of the country last year.

Danelia made the statement at the Parliament session on February 21.

“I feel that we do not properly understand how large-scale problem we have this year. I want to remind everyone that Asian stink bugs brought a huge loss to the villages of Samegrelo, Imereti, Guria and Adjara,” he stated.

Danelia slammed Georgia’s Minister of Infrastructure, Zurab Alavidze, saying he even does not attend the discussions on elimination of stink bugs.

“I have never seen him [Alavidze] visiting the regions of Georgia,” Danelia stressed.

Chairman of the Committee on Agrarian Issues thanked Georgia’s Agriculture Minister, Levan Davitashvili for his work in terms of Inter-agency Commission, which was set up by the government’s initiative to better deal with the invasive pest.

Danelia said the commission is chaired by Davitashvili, however, he believes the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili should head it due to the scale of the problem.

“I call on the Prime Minister to Chair the commission, because at present our country is not facing a larger threat than stink bugs,” he said, adding the consolidation of the whole governmental agencies is necessary to timely eliminate the problem.

Government’s Strategy against Brown Marmorated Bugs 2018 includes four main directions: information campaign, implementation of the monitoring system, stink bug control measures and scientific research works.

“In 2018, the main objective of the action plan against the Asian stink bugs is to reduce and control the number of pests by using less harmful technologies to minimize the loss of agricultural crops and the economic damage, "says the official document of the Strategy.

The government also plans to arrange pheromones traps in the forests and reserved areas.

Various state agencies and ministries were also given specific tasks:

The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure will coordinate the tasks issued to local self-governments. This means that the ministry will mobilize appropriate equipment and human resources throughout the country.

The Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia is responsible for informing the population - information booklets will be prepared on how to fight stink bugs.

The Ministry of Education will work with scientific circles while the Ministry of Finance will strengthen the phytosanitary regime at the borders.

Asian Stink Bugs were first reported in Georgia in 2015. In 2016, the bugs destroyed significant amount of hazelnut harvest in West Georgia, however, last year the largest amount of the pest has struck Georgian regions.