Cairo: Saudi authorities have banned the cultivation of palm trees in gardens and on roadside to control the spread of the red palm weevil, a dangerous pest that causes severe damage to these trees, an official has said.
The Saudi Ministry of Municipal Affairs has issued a circular to all municipalities across the kingdom halting the cultivation of palm trees in public gardens, on roadside and at new projects, Fayez Al Faridi, the head of tree planting and parks department at the ministry, added.
“They have been replaced with other trees, with emphasis on local trees that consume less amounts of water,” he told Saudi-owned television Al Arabiya.
Saudi Arabia, a key palm cultivator, has around 31 million palm trees, according to figures from the National Centre for Palms and Dates. The kingdom’s palm date output accounted for 17 per cent of the world’s overall production, the centre added in statistics released last year.
Last February, an adhoc government committee led by the minister of environment, water and agriculture, recommended a ban on palm cultivation in public gardens and on roads in the kingdom to control the spread of the weevil infections and asked provincial governors to direct municipalities to comply.
The red palm weevil larvae inflict heavy damage on palm tissues and weaken the structure of the tree trunk.