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JIS News

To prevent entry of the citrus greening disease, the Plant Quarantine Unit in the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is imploring the public to adhere to all the guidelines when importing plants, fruits, vegetables and cut flowers.
In an interview with JIS News, Chief Plant Quarantine Officer, Fitzroy White, pointed out that these products were potential carriers of harmful pests and diseases, some of which can decimate the agricultural industry, cause deforestation and loss of income for thousands of farmers.
Citrus greening, also called Huanglongbing or yellow dragon disease, is one of the more serious diseases affecting citrus plants. This bacterial disease is thought to have originated in China in the early 1900s, and has been present in Florida since 1998.
The bacteria itself is not harmful to humans but the disease has affected trees in several places, including Asia, Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and Brazil.
Mr. White pointed out that the main items confiscated at the island’s ports are herbs and spices, such as onions; fruits (grapes); vegetables, plants, cut flowers, ground provisions (yam), and miscellaneous items, such as coconuts. He added that these commodities are confiscated and destroyed.
Mr. White explained that the unit rarely had a problem with commercial importers, as the products are usually imported from controlled and monitored farms. However, he noted that there were growing concerns about small gardeners and collectors who imported prohibited items.
“Any agricultural item being imported into Jamaica must be accompanied by a valid import permit issued by the Plant Quarantine Unit,” he emphasized. Therefore, he is encouraging all persons interested in becoming legal importers of agricultural produce, to contact the Plant Quarantine Unit for a list of guidelines and stipulations that must be followed.