In 2007 CBDN identified the risk faced by agricultural communities on either side of the Ingur/i river from the ‘fall web worm’ or ‘American white butterfly’. This pest burrows into crops such as hazelnuts and walnuts, causing defoliation and eventually the death of the plants. Harvests from these crops represent a large proportion of the farmers’ income, meaning that this environmental problem also had a significant impact on local economy and livelihoods.
Recognising that this was a common problem faced by farmers in areas such as Gal/i, Ochamchira and Zugdidi, CBDN purchased equipment such as a TF-35 thermal fog generator from Turkey and trained local volunteers to combat the pest. As a result, the level of damage was reduced by 30%.
Subsequently, with funding from the UK Conflict Pool and the European Union, CBDN established pest control centres in Khurcha and Gal/i in 2010. The centres provides access to pest control tools and informational materials for local farmers. During the launches, employees demonstrated to locals how to use chemical sprays to stop the pest in its tracks. By 2013, 600 hectares of walnut plantation and 120 tonnes of hazelnuts had been preserved from damage caused by the worm. Today, the initiative continues to engage local people.
Of the service centres, one farmer commented: “I am very grateful to CBDN, International Alert and the European Union. With their financial help, I saved my hazelnuts. Otherwise, I would lose my crop.” Another remarked: “What has been done in our village is a huge work. It is the best work that has ever been done here.”