JIS News

The Plant Quarantine Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture is advising that established poinsettia plants will not be allowed in the country, and is urging travellers not to import the potted plant or else they will face fines up to $100,000.
This warning comes in anticipation of the increase in agricultural imports during the Christmas season, particularly of plants, fruits and vegetables.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Plant Quarantine Officer in the Plant Quarantine Unit, Shelia Harvey, explained that persons might attempt to import the plants because of the impact of Hurricane Dean on the agricultural sector.
If these plants are brought into the country, she pointed out, then exotic pests and diseases can be transported into the island as the organic medium in which the plants are grown attracts these pests in a similar way to regular soil.
“We don’t want any of the pests that we don’t have here to come in,” Ms. Harvey stressed. “Because of that, no established poinsettia plants will be allowed into the country,” she said firmly.
To combat the possible problem, customs and plant quarantine officers have already been placed on alert and persons who are found in breach of this guideline will be liable on conviction before a Resident Magistrate to a fine not exceeding $100,000.
The Plant Quarantine officer urged those who might smuggle items into the island not to do so as pests might be present on the smuggled items. “One piece of plant with an insect on it may be detrimental to the country,” she informed, adding that persons should abide by the rules and obtain import permits.
Meanwhile, she noted that for imports such as onions and other agricultural items, all importers must obtain import permits from the Ministry. Failure to produce such a document will result in the confiscation of all goods and the imposition of fines up to $10,000.
She also noted that all agricultural exports must be thoroughly checked by a plant quarantine officer at any of the three export complexes located at the Agriculture Ministry and at both international airports.
The Plant Quarantine Unit monitors the ports of entry to protect the agricultural sector from the entry and establishment of exotic pests, as well as oversees the issuance of import permits to individuals interested in bringing in agriculture produce to the island. Import permits may be purchased from the Unit at a cost ranging from $750 to $1,000.

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