Dobas disease kills many palms in Al-Quzah [Archives:2006/948/Local News]

May 22 2006

By: Saeed Al-Batati
HADRAMOUT, May 21 )Eyewitnesses from Hadramout's Al-Quzah region say dozens of palm trees are infected with dobas disease, whose spread is threatening to eradicate all of the area's palm trees. They add that authorities have done nothing to stop it.

Residents and village leaders accuse spray teams of not doing their work properly, causing further spread of the disease into wider areas.

Witnesses add that spray teams spend most of the time chewing qat under the palm trees and gave no attention to vulnerable trees. Enraged villagers protested to the local council and the district's managing director, asking them to stop the farce.

The Dobas insect secretes a glue substance that prevents photosynthesis in palm trees. So far, it has killed numerous trees in areas such as Al-Ain, Saiwn and other Hadramout valleys.

According to locals, the Ministry of Agriculture did not begin spraying infected areas until late, Not all of the campaigns succeeded due to the wide gap between each spraying and the next, which was attributed to lack of official funds.

There is agreement in Hadramout that palm tree extinction will lead to catastrophic environmental consequences. Loss of palms would lead to desertification and massive immigration because it is the only source of income for Hadramout Valley residents.