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JIS News

With the expected increase in agricultural imports during the Christmas season, particularly plants, fruits and vegetables, the Plant Quarantine Unit is urging importers to ensure that only goods which have been inspected and certified from the country of their origin, are imported. Speaking with JIS News, Senior Plant Quarantine Inspector in the Unit at the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, Fitzroy White, warned persons who might “smuggle” in agricultural items from time to time, that this practice was dangerous.
“Many people would want to take back several kinds of seasonings to enhance their Christmas cooking. We want them to recognize that every single agricultural item is a pest risk,” Mr. White said.
“People would carry in their fruits and the larvae would be in the fruits and nobody knows, so we want also for people to be aware of that,” he added.
He emphasized that all persons importing agricultural produce (commercial or non-commercial) must have a permit, which is issued by the Plant Quarantine Unit.”We would want even the householder to apply for an import permit, because in agriculture, pests are no respector of persons, whether it is commercial or personal items, we still have the same pest risk to deal with,” Mr. White said.
Commenting on the various pests that can affect the island’s agricultural sector, he informed that Jamaica was still free from the pink hibiscus mealy bug, which was affecting some parts of Florida and the Caribbean.
“We know what it [pink mealy bug] can cause, because we have the experience from these people’s unfortunate situation, so we want people to bear in mind that the pink hibiscus mealy bug is one of those dreaded diseases that we do not want to come here,” he stressed.
Additionally, he said there was also the danger of the Mediterranean fruit fly, which was a potential threat to the island’s agricultural sector, in that the presence of the disease would have a more devastating effect than the fruit fly that was now affecting the island.
Another potential disease, he noted, was the golden nematode that is found on Irish potatoes and onions.”We want people to be aware that there are some pests that are out there, that they don’t even know of and that they should adhere to the regulations set out by the organization, to prevent the entry of these diseases,” Mr. White said.