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News Briefs

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 12:00 AM

NWC reports improved storage levels

The National Water Commission (NWC) has lifted the prohibition order which made it an offence under the law to use water wastefully or excessively.

Such offences were punishable by a fine imposed by the parish courts after conviction or imprisonment for up to 30 days.

“With recent rainfall, the inflows to NWC sources that had been struggling under several months of below-normal rainfall, especially in eastern and southern parishes, have shown measurable improvement. Storage levels at the Mona Reservoir and Hermitage Dam have increased to more than 65 per cent and 75 per cent, respectively, over the weekend,” a release from the NWC said yesterday.

According to NWC President Mark Barnett, this increase in rainfall and storage levels has enabled the commission to lift the prohibition order, which was imposed in May.

Customers are still being encouraged to practice water conservation to avoid the need to revert to water-restriction measures.



Jamaica to undertake mosquito sterilisation pilot project

Come next year, the Ministry of Health and Wellness will be embarking on a pilot for the sterilised insect technique as part of efforts to minimise mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue.

Portfolio Minister Dr Christopher Tufton says the initiative will be spearheaded by the Mosquito Control Research Unit, which has been established in conjunction with The University of the West Indies (UWI).

The technique is an environmentally friendly pest-control method involving mass-rearing and sterilisation, via radiation, of target pests such as the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Tufton explained that the process also involves systematic areawide release of the sterile males by air, over defined areas, resulting in no fertilisation when they mate with wild females, thereby leading to a decline in the mosquito population.

He was speaking at a Pan American Health Organization PAHO workshop at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Monday.

Tufton said Jamaica has had a dengue threshold that has been classified as an outbreak for the better part of 2019, noting that this is “not that normal”.

He contended that Jamaica, like the rest of the Caribbean, must figure out how to deal with the prevalence of mosquitoes and their increasingly aggressive nature.


Ja’s banana, plantain industries on high alert for TR4 disease

Jamaica is restricting the importation of banana, plantains and any relatives of the plant family as the country is now on high alert for the Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease, previously called Panama disease, which attacks the crops.

In a statement in Parliament yesterday, Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw said that TR4 is considered one of the 10 most notable diseases in the history of agriculture “and is the most destructive disease to have affected bananas, plantains, and the Heliconia plant”.

The pathogen is resistant to fungicides and until now, its control is limited to phytosanitary measures.

Infected plants typically experience yellowing and wilting of the leaves.

Shaw explained that the fungus spreads through infected plant materials and infested soil particles attached to items such as farm tools, shoes, clothes, animals and vehicles.

“This means that visitors to our shores and even we, as residents when we travel, can bring this fungus into Jamaica. As such, I am urging all visitors and residents to adhere to the guidelines as established by the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection Branch of the ministry,” he said.

The agriculture minister emphasised that the disease is not in Jamaica, but noted that preventative initiatives have been implemented to safeguard the Jamaican banana and plantain industry.