The prime minister spent about 15 minutes presiding over a ceremony to officially open the taen bian project yesterday morning before chairing a cabinet meeting at Suratthani Rajabhat University.
She released balloons emblazoned with pictures of parasitic wasps to mark the start of the project, which is expected to decrease the number of coconut pests on the island by half when it is combined with other pest control methods, according to Department of Agriculture chief Damrong Chirasuthat.
The wasps are parasites that live inside other insects.
They feed off them and eventually kill their hosts. The department decided the wasps could be used to kill troublesome coconut pests.
Agriculture officials have so far raised a number of taen bian, aiming to use them to control two major coconut bugs _ non hua dam (black-headed coconut caterpillars) and malaeng dam nam (an insect pest known as rice hispa).
The department chose Samui island to pilot the taen bian project, which begins next month and runs until September next year.
Ms Yingluck's mobile cabinet meeting in Surat Thani was used to feature the project. Samui is among Thailand's major coconut harvesting areas, which cover about 1.35 million rai nationwide.
Coconut yields have been falling due to a burgeoning number of pests, said Deputy Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Nattawut Saikuar.
Meanwhile, the cabinet at its meeting on Koh Samui yesterday approved spending 40 billion baht on 46 development projects in Surat Thani, Chumphon, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Phatthalung, said government spokeswoman Sansanee Nakpong.
The projects include the improvement of highway No.41 and logistics development on Surat Thani's Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao.
The cabinet also resolved to appropriate a 1.7 billion baht budget to increase salaries of teachers and education officials, following the state's decision to introduce a 15,000-baht starting salary for state officials with a bachelor's degree, said Education Minister Suchart Thada-Thamrongvech.
As many as 94,675 teachers and education officials are entitled to the pay increase for the 2012 fiscal year, Mr Suchart said.