Fri | Sep 17, 2021

Agriculture Ministry calls for an end to illegal citrus plant production

Published:Friday | February 7, 2020 | 10:11 AM
Interim Chief Executive Officer of the National Fisheries Authority, Courtney Cole (centre), examines a citrus plant affected by the Citrus Greening disease with specialised glasses at the 21st annual general meeting of the Jamaica Citrus Protection Agency (JCPA) at the Bybrook Sporting Facility in Bog Walk, St Catherine on February 5, 2020. Others from left are Plant Quarantine Officer in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Alfred Barrett, and Chairman of the JCPA, Peter McConnell - Contributed photo

The Ministry of Agriculture is calling for an end to the illegal production of citrus plants because of the threat of spreading existing and new diseases that will decimate the crop.

In a statement, interim chief executive officer of the Ministry’s National Fisheries Authority, Courtney Cole, stated that introducing uncertified material will only result in a deleterious effect on the industry.

“It is in the best interest of all Jamaicans to help us to protect, nurture and grow this valuable industry,” he urged.

Cole, who was representing the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dermon Spence, was addressing the 21st annual general meeting of the Jamaica Citrus Protection Agency (JCPA) in Bybrook, St Catherine, on Wednesday.

The agency is responsible for implementing a mandatory citrus certification scheme under the authority delegated by law and provides assistance to citrus growers and nurseries in areas of health indexing, propagation, diagnostic laboratory testing and other citrus research activities.

Chairman of the JCPA, Peter McConnell, in his remarks echoed similar sentiments and urged support from the stakeholders to share information on any illegal operation “so that we can enforce the law and protect our industry”.

“All information received will be treated confidentially. It is in the best interest of all who make a living from the industry to discourage the illegal production of citrus plants as a result of the threat of diseases,” he said.

According to the ministry, data has shown that diseases such as citrus greening and citrus tristeza, among other factors, have contributed to a decline in local citrus production with a total of 1.6 million boxes being produced in 2017, which is about half of the production in 1999.

Meanwhile, Cole noted that as part of an overall redevelopment of the citrus industry a new bud wood facility, which is expected to be completed at the end of this financial year, at the Bodles Research Station in St Catherine, will add between 30,000 and 40,000 bud eyes per year.

Bud wood facilitates the growth of new trees using propagation.

For his part, Plant Quarantine Officer in the Ministry, Alfred Barrett, is encouraging persons interested in introducing new citrus plants to contact him at the Bodles Research Station.

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