Agriculture Ministry to Set up Lab in Portland


The Ministry of Agriculture is setting up a laboratory in Portland to produce the parasitoid wasps, which are the main weapons being employed in the fight against the Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug.
The Fair Prospect office of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA), which was damaged during Hurricane Dean in August, is being repaired at a cost of $882,000 to accommodate the lab.
Marina Young Senior, Plant Health Food Safety Specialist at the Ministry of Agriculture, told JIS News that the laboratory is expected to be completed in December, with wasp production to commence by the beginning of next year.
She noted that the establishment of the laboratory will ensure that the country is able to produce the wasps, when the agreement with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to supply the country with the parasites, expires at the end of December. Earlier this year, the Ministry imported wasps from the United States and these are being distributed in communities in the parish, where the bug has been discovered. The wasp is the natural enemy of the bug. Declaring that the effort to halt the spread of the bug will continue relentlessly, Mrs. Young Senior said in addition to the parasitoid wasps, the lady bird beetle, which is another enemy of the bug, is also being released in affected areas of Portland.
In addition to biological control, the Ministry’s programme to contain and reduce the population of the Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug includes surveillance and monitoring, and a public awareness campaign.
Discovered in Portland in June of this year, the bug has affected several plants in communities in Eastern Portland including the hibiscus, white mahoe, acalyphia, sweet sop, sour sop, gungo peas, sweet potato, okra and sorrel.

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