Invasive caterpillar threatens Mekong Delta coconut ‘kingdom’

Some 150 hectares (370 acres) of coconut groves in Ben Tre Province have been damaged by a caterpillar species endemic to India and Sri Lanka.

In mid-March trunks of dead coconut trees could be seen scattered along either side of National Highway 60 in Chau Thanh District in Ben Tre, dubbed the “coconut kingdom” of Vietnam. With 74,000 hectares (182,800 acres), it accounts for half the country’s coconut farming area.

In many groves, trees stand with withered tops, leaves gray and ragged.

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Hoang Nam