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Russia to Pay Abkhazians for Collecting Asian Stink Bugs

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, March 29
Russia will pay Abkhazians 1000 Russian Rubles ($17.5, Gel 42.44) per kilogram of Asian stink bugs, which devastated nearly the whole nut harvest in Georgia’s Russian-backed, breakaway region of Abkhazia.

The offer from the Russian side is one of the methods of combating the invasive pest, which started to multiply very fast this spring.

Russian side declared that brown marmorated stink bugs must be eliminated in de facto Abkhazia in a year, otherwise Russia will not allow Abkhazians to import their production to their territory.

Russian researchers say that it is important for Russia to maintain ecological balance in the Caucasus region, because if the pest starts to multiply in the South Caucasus, the bugs will expand to the north too.

The humanitarian organization Movement Against Hunger in breakaway Abkhazia conducted a survey regarding the Asian stink bugs. According to the survey, the damage inflicted to Abkhazia is colossal.

“Many farmers in Gali, Sokhumi and Gulripshi regions have not been able to take nut harvest, as it was totally destroyed by brown marmorated bugs. The same situation is in Ochamchire…The pest also destroys fruit and vegetables,” the survey reads.

In mid-March Russia’s Rosselkhoznadzor, Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance, imposed a ban on the import of vegetables and fruit from occupied Abkhazia.

The Russian side made the decision in order to prevent the spread of the pest onto the Russian territory from occupied Abkhazia. It is still unclear how long the ban will last.

Georgian media reports last year the de facto authorities of Abkhazia spent around 25 million Russian Rubles ($4.3 million) in the fight against Asian stink bugs, but without any tangible success, as the pest has doubled in the region this year.

Brown Marmorated bugs, were first reported in Georgia in 2015 and devastated nearly the whole nut harvest in the western regions of the country.

De facto Abkhazian side claims the bugs spread to the breakaway region from Georgia.