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Jul 21, 2015

Mediterranean Fruit Fly Detected in the South

The Mediterranean Fruit Fly has been detected in two areas southern Belize. That’s the report today via a press release from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority, better known as BAHA. The pest, which can cause the country to lose its citrus, bananas and other fruits for export if it is not contained, was detected one week ago, on July fourteenth, in Hopkins in Stann Creek and in the Sapodilla Cayes in Toledo. According to the BAHA release, Belize is the only country in the region that was free of the Medfly and it is suspected that it was introduced into the country through fruits and vegetables from neighboring Honduras and Guatemala.  News Five spoke today with C.E.O. in the Ministry of Agriculture, Jose Alpuche who says that the Medfly was detected during routine checks in the south and that since then, eradication activities are in place.

 

On the Phone: Jose Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture

“It happens from time to time. Based on the location where we found it, we suspect that someone might have brought in a carrier host that they should not have brought in. But BAHA has already done the counter measures in terms of fruit stripping and spraying in the area and placing out additional traps. So at the moment it is a detection which I said happens from time to time. It is not a full-fledged outbreak as yet. We have a lotta people plying the field in terms of trade with neighboring countries and we suspect that it might have been through this route. If you look at what happened, we only had infection on one of the outer cayes and then something that was infected was brought onshore.”

 

Jose Alpuche

Duane Moody

“Sir, just to verify, there is no alarm…our fruit trees in the south are not affected or anything like that?”

 

On the Phone: Jose Alpuche

“No, one of the most common hosts for the medfly locally is the local almond or tropical hammans and I think that’s where the bulk of the fruit stripping took place. And BAHA is following established protocols as they always do when this occurs in close conjunction with the US authorities and other regional authorities to counteract this detection. There are areas in both Honduras and Guatemala that are not Medfly-flee free and this is why I said this is something that happens occasionally and this is why we maintain an active countrywide surveillance program and it was this surveillance program that detected the flies in Hopkins. So the system is working, we just have to be careful and keep on asking the public to cooperate with us and not to do things that could put both local as well as national in respect of risks. As is demonstrated by incidents such as these, the best defense is an informed public and we really have to ask the public as we always do, not to bring in fruits that are either under quarantine risk and quarantine importance to the country because they impact themselves and many others when people lose income because of countermeasures we have to take.”

 

BAHA is asking all Belizeans and visitors to respect the law and ensure that fruits or vegetables that are brought into Belize are done so with a valid BAHA import permit.

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