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#468246 - 07/16/13 11:12 AM Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the south
Marty Offline
The Belize Agricultural Health Authority informs the general public, especially in southern Belize, that Mediterranean fruit flies have been detected at various points in the Toledo District, Mango Creek, and along the Placencia Peninsula. As a result of these detections, BAHA will quarantine part of the Stann Creek district and the entire Toledo District with effect from Saturday July 13th, 2013. A 24-hour quarantine checkpoint has been placed on the southern highway at the village of Silk Grass. This action is necessary to maintain Belize’s Medfly free status which is essential to maintain our export markets for papayas and citrus.

BAHA is therefore requesting the cooperation of the public to cease illegal importation of fresh fruits and vegetables from infested areas such as Guatemala and Honduras, and also to stop movement of fresh fruits and vegetables from the designated quarantine area. The public is advised that violations will lead to immediate confiscation and destruction of produce regardless of quantity.

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#468251 - 07/16/13 11:25 AM Re: Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the south

Hernan Zetina

For the first time, the presence of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly has been detected in Belize. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority is reporting multiple sightings of the fly in south and has activated a twenty-four hour check point in the village of Silk Grass, Stann Creek. BAHA wants to stop the fly from spreading to the citrus industry and farther north to the papaya fields to prevent millions of dollars in losses in exports to the United States. Plant Health Officer, Hernan Zetina, has been assigned as coordinator for the Mediterranean Fruit Fly Program and he notes that the pest was introduced to the country via illegal entry of products from neighboring Guatemala and Honduras where there is a high count of the medfly.

Via Phone: Hernan Zetina, Coordinator, Medfly Program

“We’ve had to implement an internal quarantine in order to contain this fly first and foremost in this area, control it and eventually eradicate it. This is necessary for us to maintain our export markets for fresh fruits such as papayas and to ensure that the fly does not become established in citrus producing areas in Belize. First detection for this year was made in late April, early May and at that time we implemented eradication measures because we were finding one or two flies in specific areas. At that time, it was necessary to implement an internal quarantine because with the eradication activities in place we were able to contain the fly. However, over the last two weeks, the amount of flies that we have detected has increased exponentially and so we decided that it was necessary to implement this quarantine.  The Mediterranean Fruit Fly lays its eggs in fruit and when the egg turns into larvae or worm it destroys the fruit. But most importantly for Belize is the fact that if we were to detect this medfly in areas that are producing fruit for export, we would immediately lose that market. Again if we were to detect the fly in the north of Belize, we would lose our papaya industry so we are talking about foreign exchange earnings in excess of ten million U.S. of dollars per annum and we could put in jeopardy thousands of jobs for people who are directly or indirectly employed with these industries. So that for us is the biggest threat; the loss of export market.  The Citrus industry is not being affected because the factories are closed right now beucase there are no fruits to process; however, if we continue to find flies and there comes a point where there are fruits to process, we have a citrus harvesting protocol with the citrus industry and so we would still be able to move fruits from southern Belize to the factory and those fruits would have to be immediately process. Coming back to your previous question, we do believe that these medflies are being introduced into Belize by people who bring in illegal commodities. They go over to Guatemala or Honduras without an import permit from BAHA; they bring in these fruits that are invested. So we do believe that that is the source of the infestation.  If we were to detect this medfly in northern Belize, then we would immediately lose our access to market such as the U.S. and so this is why we decided to implement this quarantine. The quarantine was put up on July thirteenth and at Silk Grass. And so all areas south of Silk Grass including the Toledo District in under quarantine. This means that no fruits or vegetables that are host to the Mediterranean fruit fly can be removed from the quarantine area.”

Zetina says that several other check points will be put in place in the following days. The fruits that are infested with the medfly include: craboo, mangos, orange, papaya, plums and others. More information is available at any of BAHA offices countrywide. 

Channel 5


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#468328 - 07/17/13 10:34 AM Re: Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Belize Has Fruit Flies, How To Get Rid Of It?

Belize is under a fruit-fly quarantine after the agricultural pest was detected in southern Belize. BAHA has confirmed that fruit flies were found at various points in the Toledo District, Mango Creek, and along the Placencia Peninsula.

The quarantine was implemented on Saturday July 13th and a round the clock checkpoint was set up on the Southern Highway near Silk Grass.

It’s imperative that Belize suppress the fruitfly because it could meaningfully threaten exports of papayas and citrus. Today CEO in the Ministry of Agriculture Jose Alpuche explained the threat:

Jose Alpuche - CEO, Ministry of Agriculture
"Yes, we've detected the Mediterranean fruit fly in Southern Belize, so BAHA had to implement a quarantine from Silk Grass down South to the entire Southern part of the country."

Daniel Ortiz
"Can you explain to us what takes place when this fruit fly becomes a problem?"

Jose Alpuche
"Well what BAHA is required to do is to confiscate any fruit coming out of the quarantine area, fruit that are hosts to the fly. The real danger with the Mediterranean fruit fly is that it could impact other industries, such as citrus and papaya. If those industries are affected, we could lose our export market until we can then eradicate the flies, so it is a very serious threat."

Daniel Oritz
"So tell us, are we able to get this under control?"

Jose Alpuche
"Yes it's not the first time that we've had an infestation, I believe the last one was in 2003, and I think we have every confidence that we would be able to bring this one under control too. One point I wanted to make was to try and call on the public to please cooperate with us - it's absolutely essential, we know that some people may lose some earnings because they can't move a fruit out of the area but those fruits can still be sold within the area under quarantine but they just can't move them out. We really call on them for their understanding; it's really and truly, at the end of the day, for the greater good of the country. We cannot afford, at this point in time, to lose any of our export markets."

Violations will lead to immediate confiscation and destruction of produce regardless of quantity.

Channel 7


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#468334 - 07/17/13 10:55 AM Re: Mediterranean Fruit Fly in the south [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

MEDFLY FOUND IN SOUTHERN BELIZE

Infestation caused by smuggled fruits and vegetables; quarantine ordered.


Southern Belize—and specifically the area from Silk Grass to the Sarstoon—is this year reporting an infestation of Mediterranean fruit flies (medfly for short), and the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) has announced a quarantine of part of the Stann Creek District and the entire Toledo District – where, historically, the medfly infestations have occurred, presumably due to the smuggling of fruits and vegetables.

The quarantine, which came into effect on Saturday July 13, 2013, will run for at least 6 weeks and possibly up to 12 weeks, depending on the results of our surveillance program, Hernan Zetina, who is the Coordinator of the Medfly Programme in Belize, told Amandala.

Zetina said that, “We’ve been having a series of detections since the last week of April.”

What the quarantine means is that the fruits and vegetables on a list of prohibited items are not allowed to be transported. If they are found upon searches conducted at designated checkpoints, BAHA officials will confiscate them. A 24-hour quarantine checkpoint has been placed on the Southern Highway at the village of Silk Grass, BAHA has notified.

BAHA has confiscated mostly mangoes and citrus since Saturday. Common fruits and vegetables on the quarantine list are apple, apricot, avocado, bell pepper, carambola, ripe coffee berry, dates, figs, grapes, grapefruit, guava, loquat, lychee, mango, nectarine, orange, tangerine, papaya, peach, pear, plum, pomegranate, pummel, sapote, sapodilla, tangerine, tomato, craboo, almond, coco plum, sea grape, chico sapote, malay apple, and caimito.

Examples of fruits and vegetables allowed to be moved from the quarantine area are watermelon, pineapple, coconut, bananas, plantains and hot peppers. Zetina said that he heard someone ask on radio whether hot peppers are allowed, and he told us that they are not on the list of prohibited items.

The idea behind the quarantine, said Zetina, is to stop the movement of produce known to host the medfly. He said that there is absolutely no threat to humans, if they consume the fruit; except that they might find maggots or worms inside.

Apart from the quarantine, BAHA has also put in place an eradication program, which entails the weekly spraying of the fruit with an insecticide approved for organic production, GF120 (a production of bacterial fermentation). BAHA also fights the medfly by stripping fruits off the infested trees.

Zetina told us that BAHA began to detect the medfly in southern Belize in April, and already the count of flies caught has tallied 50 – much higher than the count in previous years. Zetina said that the last time Belize had this many fruit flies was in 2003, when 93 flies were caught. Since April, 50 have been caught, and only half the year has expired, he pointed out. In 2012, 11 flies were caught and 5 to 12 flies were caught in the previous years.

According to Zetina, there are no reports of medfly infestations in northern Belize, and one of the main reasons for the quarantine is to protect papaya crops in the north, which earned Belize US$10 million in earnings last year.

Most of those crops are destined for the US market, which maintains a strict policy on importing produce from medfly-infested areas. According to Zetina, the requirement, due to the US policy, is that medfly fields be put under 9 square miles of quarantine until they are declared medfly-free. Belize’s papaya farms only make up 500 acres, and so a medfly infestation would shut down the papaya industry in the north. The US, he said, would not take the papaya if there is a fruit fly infestation in the north, and Belize would have to close the market for 90 days, until it is able to declare the area free of the medfly. Zetina said that this threat must be averted.

However, there must also be immediate measures to contain the infestation in southern Belize, because, according to Zetina, as much as 15% of the citrus crop could be lost due to the medfly.

BAHA reports that Mediterranean fruit flies have been detected at various points in the Toledo District, as well as at Mango Creek and Placencia in the Stann Creek District – which are the hotspots for the infestation.

The medfly infestation, Zetina said, was very likely caused by the illegal importation of produce such as apples, and pears and peaches, through neighboring Central American countries. He noted that the bulk of the infestation was seen in Mango Creek, which has been getting imports mainly from Honduras.

Additionally, southern Guatemala could also be a source of infested fruit, according to the official. Of note is that illegal produce is also brought into Belize at Jalacte, and Zetina told us that BAHA has been working with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Customs, to select an area for formal infrastructure to facilitate these agencies. BAHA is also planning on boosting checkpoints in southern Belize, particularly as concerns over illegal importation of produce have increased due to increased access to Placencia with the improvements on the highway to Jalacte, which Zetina said is half-complete.

The announcement from BAHA today called on the public to desist from the illegal importation of fresh fruits and vegetables from infested areas, such as Guatemala and Honduras. It added that violations will lead to immediate confiscation and destruction of produce regardless of quantity.

According to BAHA, the medfly, the scientific name for which is Ceratitis capitata, “is an exotic pest and has never been established in Belize. A testament to this was when Belize was officially recognized by the USDA as a medfly-free country on August 28, 2001.”

(For more information visit http://www.baha.bz/mediterranean.html)

Amandala


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