prevent its spread to other islands. In Myanmar symptoms of Brontispa have been observed and the Government has requested assistance from FAO to help reduce the rate of spread and impact of the pest. It is certain that Brontispa will continue to spread westwards into Bangladesh and India, and possibly even to Africa. We are of the view that the Brontispa incursion should be considered a regional emergency, and therefore requires priority action. The processes to request funding support from FAO and other donors, however, are slow and success is not assured. This means that until now we have only been able to apply reactive approaches, by acting only after an incursion into a new country has occurred. Although our responses are becoming faster, significant damage to coconuts and direct impact on the incomes and live- lihoods of the rural producers will continue to occur if we proceed in this way. But we believe that there is another, more proactive approach that is based on a strategy to release the natural enemies in the incur- sion ‘frontline’ of the pest. This strategy would allow the parasitoids in their own capacity to closely follow the outward migration of Brontispa , and prevent the build-up of large damaging populations of the pest in new incursion areas. Such a strategy may be best addressed through a regional approach, to include not only countries where Brontispa is present now but also those that are under direct threat of incursion. The FAO, possibly with assistance from the APCC or other regional organisations, is keen to assist with such an initiative, which will help maintain the live- lihoods of rural farmers and their families in the region. The coconut hispine beetle is now classified as an invasive species and a regional assistance effort is urgently needed to prevent its spread to other parts of the Indian Ocean and Africa. Recently, a manual entitled ‘Mass rearing of the coconut hispine beetle ( Brontispa longissima ) and its natural enemy ( Asecodes hispinarum )’ has been pro- duced by FAO-RAP and is available from the Bangkok office. Also a video on the same methodol- ogies is nearing completion and will be available from FAO-RAP in June–July 2006. Conclusion Over the past 5 years the FAO-RAP has had a very defined commitment to the production of high quality VCO via improvement in technologies for processing and product development. This commit- ment continues in a number of countries in the Asia– Pacific region with FAO assistance (Bawalan and Chapman 2006). An FAO manual entitled ‘Virgin coconut oil – production manual for micro- and village-scale processing’ is now available from FAO-RAP in Bangkok. Another key activity of FAO-RAP has been focused on biocontrol of the coconut hispine beetle Brontispa longissima with the parasitoid Asecodes hispinarum, and strategic measures aimed at quaran- tine and prevention of the transport of palms and cycads which are hosts of the beetle (Liebregts et al.
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