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Agriculture ministry cracks down on importation of prohibited agri items

Published:Friday | March 13, 2015 | 3:26 PM

The Agriculture Ministry is moving to implement a programme to crack down on the importation of prohibited agricultural items which could pose a risk to the country’s food security.

The ministry has relaunched its Don’t Pack a Pest Programme which will see the strengthening of key agencies and units.

Among the changes which are to come are the modernising of the Plant Quarantine/Produce Inspection Branch, the implementation of a Canine Detection Programme and the establishment of a Jamaica Import Export Centre in Montego Bay, St James.

Speaking at the launch yesterday, State Minister for Agriculture, Luther Buchanan, said these initiatives are being implemented to ensure that only the highest quality, pest-free agricultural commodities are exported and imported.

Buchanan further outlined that the importation of uncertified items, such as citrus, banana, soil and animal and meat products from some countries poses a serious threat to the agricultural sector and Jamaica’s food security.

He says such items could contain exotic invasive pests.

The ‘Don’t Pack a Pest Programme’ is being carried out in collaboration with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Division of Plant Industry and the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Inspection Health Service.

It was noted that Jamaica and Florida are  particularly vulnerable to the introduction of new pests because of the high level of trade and tourist travel between both countries.