Work continues towards keeping Belize Medfly free
Belize has signed on to the Fruit Fly Control Cooperative Agreement aimed at managing the pests in order to protect crops in Belize and the United States of America. The agreement was signed on Tuesday, July 28th during the Meeting of the Multilateral Fruit Fly Commission held in Cancun, Mexico. This marks the second time a delegation from Belize has participated in such an event. Concerns regarding the invasive pest grew when on Tuesday, July 21st, Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) detected the Mediterranean fruit fly (or Medfly) in Southern Belize.
The Medfly is considered the most devastating agricultural pest in the world, and originated in the Mediterranean area. Capable of causing extensive damage to a wide range of fruit crops, the Medfly has spread invasively to many parts of North, Central and South America.
BAHA has identified possible outbreaks of Medfly in the Hopkins Village in the Stann Creek District and Sapodilla Cayes in the Toledo District. As a result, eradication activities such as fruit stripping, ground spraying, and delimitation trapping are underway in these areas. Belize is the only country in the region that is free of this pest and it is only when infested Medfly hosts, such as fruits and vegetables, are brought into Belize illegally that this pest is introduced. Adult Medfly lay eggs under the skins of fruit which serve as a distribution vessel.
“These activities are important to ensure that the outbreak is contained and that the Medflies are eradicated quickly. The Medfly is a very devastating pest and Belize could lose its export markets if the Medlfy becomes established and spreads into areas that are producing fruit for export. In addition, the Medfly also causes loss to small entrepreneurs who are unable to sell their fruits, such as mango, craboo or guavas locally when areas are placed under quarantine restrictions. It also deprives the population in infested areas from consuming fresh fruits that is a valuable source of nutrition,” said BAHA in a press release.
As part of the Fruit Fly Control Cooperative Agreement, BAHA will work along with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Agriculture to ensure outbreaks in the region do not occur. The cooperative efforts include the control and eradication of fruit fly pests; the management of an exotic fruit fly surveillance program, and technical cooperation with respect to the management of fruit fly pests and related activities in Belize.
In addition to the signing of the agreement, the USDA committed to providing Belize with $186,000US for the fiscal year 2016, while the Government of Belize (GOB) has committed $343,600US in counterpart funding. This contribution will be used specifically for Medfly eradication activities and for the procurement of equipment, materials and supplies, while the GOB contribution is for salaries and operational expenses for the Medfly programme.
All Belizeans and visitors are asked to respect the law and ensure that fruits or vegetables that are brought into Belize are done so with a valid BAHA import permit.