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JIS News

As the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 kicks off today, the Plant Quarantine Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands has stepped up its activities in order to protect the country from the possible introduction of new pests and diseases.
With the steady influx of visitors from across the world, and the increased likelihood foods such as fruits being brought in, the Unit has increased its coverage at all ports of entry.
Shelia Harvey, Chief Plant Quarantine Officer in the Ministry told JIS News that, “there are some plants coming out of areas that might be infested with the Mediterranean fruit fly, so we would not want those fruits such as mangoes introduced here with the possibility of us getting that pest here”. Such items, she added, would be confiscated by the Jamaica Customs Department.
Prior to the staging of the event, she explained that the Unit did not have full coverage at all ports of entry and depended heavily on the Customs Department to carry out its functions.
“Usually we have one officer at the airport stationed in the airport itself and this person will work from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. With the many flights coming in at various times, what we have done is to compile a list of the flight times and assigned officers to work with Customs for those flights, and we have done the same for the seaports,” she explained.
In order to have full 24-hour coverage, while not increasing the capacity of the Unit, Ms. Harvey said that the officers have been rostered to make this possible during the tournament.
While it will be still up to the Customs Department to assess the declaration forms and confiscate prohibited items, the officers from the Unit are responsible for properly disposing of such items. “Everything will be dependent on what they [visitors] respond to on the forms,” she noted.
There will also be an increase in signage at all points of entry. “Basically they will say ‘stop, help us keep agricultural pest and diseases out of Jamaica’ and ‘please do not import any pests and diseases by bringing in uncertified plants’,” she explained.
“We have a list of things – whether it may be potted plants, fruits and vegetables or seeds – that should not be carried into the country,” Ms. Harvey said.