With increasing global food insecurity, the last thing any country needs right now is an invasive species that can damage or decimate crops.

And that has something to do with the fact that we are funding medfly defenses in Belize and Peten in the hopes that these areas can act as a line of first defence to make sure that they never have to deal with the problem again.

Those efforts continued today when BAHA received what has become an annual check from the U.S. Embassy. Cherisse Halsall attended that ceremony and brings us this short report.

It's the fruit fly that once posed a massive threat to North America's agriculture.

And back in the early 2000's it caused quite the panic in southern Belize. But since then the U.S. government has pumped quite a bit of money into a BAHA partnership to try and get the MEDFLY at bay.

Francisco Gutierrez, Technical Director, Plant Health, BAHA
"The Peten region and Belize are the for, um, lack of a better word, the frontline against this pest that which the upper half of the Americas which includes all of Belize, northern Guatemala, all of Mexico and the United States so hence the reason that we get that level of support to be able to keep the MEDFLY at bay, keep it in Central America and even push it back."

And at today's annual handing-over ceremony acting Chief of Mission Andie De Arment told the media how many of Belize's agricultural sectors benefit from the program's funds.

Andie D'Arment, Representative, U.S. Embassy
"The money we provide does so many things that are behind the scenes. It is investing in food security. It's investing in prosperity for farmers and for exports for Belize. It provides jobs for those industries, so this investment in agriculture is something we are very. Proud of at the U.S. government and I am proud that we were able to raise the funds this year so not just for the MEDFLY eradication program but for the quarantine program we are able to provide additional funding are able to provide vehicles and again this year is. a quarter of a million U.S. dollars or half a million Belizean dollars we are investing of the U.S. government money into Belize's agriculture sector."

And Minister of Agriculture Jose Mai is hoping that those funds can help us to once return to safe and competitive fruit production for the U.S. market.

Jose Mai, Minister of Agriculture
"We all know that we have in the past been a very strong producer of papaya for export to the U.S. we have now fallen back on that a little hoping to get it back up but it is of critical importance, plant health importance, and economic importance for us to keep monitoring and keep the surveillance project for Mediterranean fruit flies. A couple of years ago it was papayas it is. still papayas to a certain extent but we hope. To do other fresh fruit in the very near future. We are looking at the potential of exporting Citrus products and fresh fruit to the U.S. We are working with Peter Hyaa and us. Are working maybe with other tropical fruits which are all host to the Mediterranean fruit fly."

And with stringent BAHA measures in place, the hope is that the MEDFLY stays gone for a very long time, if not forever.

Andie D'Arment, Representative, U.S. Embassy
"This is one. Of those programs that is kind of under the radar because you, you, the whole key is to keep the problem from happening, right so you can't prove a negative and the fact that you have said that there has not been a MEDFLY outbreak that those have been able to be contained has been so important."

Today's donation amounted to just short of half a million Belize dollars.

Channel 7