Early this year, a small quantity of the pellets was sold to two farmers to get rid of slugs feeding on transplanted vegetable seedlings.
The pellets imported by the Ministry, similar to most other pellets available in many countries, contain a bittering agent to deter cats and dogs.
It is very unlikely that the slug and snail pellets caused the poisoning of the pets and the Ministry is unaware of any case of poisoning of domestic animals and pets from ingesting slug and snail pellets.
Slugs and snails can cause extensive damage to newly planted vegetable seedlings especially during wet weather. These pests may also feed on mature fruits of tomatoes, watermelons and eggplants.
These pesticides are widely used in many countries and has been available on the island for the control and management of such pests in home gardens and plantations.
The Ministry is well aware of the dangers of agricultural pesticides to human health, domestic animals and the environment and it continues to work collaboratively with its global and regional partners in finding safer alternatives for pest management in crops.
For many years, the Ministry has continued its efforts in providing awareness training on the appropriate use, storage and management of pesticides for farmers on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua, with the aim to reduce the use of the more hazardous pesticides in the country.
Over the past 11 months, the Ministry has conducted trainings on Rarotonga and all the southern Pa Enua and will continue to do so in future, while simultaneously promoting organic crop production in the islands.
Furthermore, for the past five to six years, we have maintained a regular stock of organically-certified pesticides including Dipel Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki, Mineral (DC Tron) and Neem oils.
These are sold to home gardeners and commercial farmers on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua for crop pest management.
The continuous efforts of the Ministry in promoting these organic pesticides has resulted in the reduction of use of more hazardous pesticides by many farmers as they realize the benefits and effectiveness of such organic pesticides.
The Minister of Agriculture has directed the Ministry to continue promoting the use of organic pesticides, whilst at the same time, look for other safer options for pest management in crop production.
Secretary of Agriculture