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Apr 27, 2018

Port of Belize Gets New Area for Quarantine Treatment

Today, the Ministry of Agriculture officially opened a quarantine treatment arch at the Port of Belize in Belize City. The new arch is part of a wider effort done across ports of entry to prevent pests and invasive species from coming into the country; so vehicles and containers are sprayed. This is being done as a support to the agriculture industry, which is vulnerable to pests and other invasive species. News Five’s Andrea Polanco reports.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

The Ministry of Agriculture, Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) and the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA)  officially inaugurated a quarantine treatment facility at the Port of Belize.  It is a spray arch system used to help eliminate bugs and other disease-carrying pests that may enter the country and wreak havoc on plant and animal life. As Minister of Agriculture Godwin Hulse explains, this new automatic system is more effective than manual checks.

 

Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Agriculture

“Spraying system existed before but not like this automatic one we are seeing that will catch under the vehicle, top of the vehicle, two sides of the vehicle as it passes. You had a guy out there with a little spray pan and he was hit and miss. And because the bugs are so large and glaring that you can’t see them, you don’t know what you miss. Like I say, they have big eyes and watching you but you can’t see them. So, we have to catch and kill them and the only way we can do that is by spraying them.”

 

Pests and other invasive species are a threat to economies across the world; they cause billions of dollars in damage every year.  That is why the International Regional Committee for Agriculture and Health (CIRSA) funded this new system as a first line defense at this port of entry. It is part of a larger plan which started a few years ago.

 

Octavio Carranza

Dr. Octavio Carranza, Technical Director, OIRSA

“This facility is very important in this area of the Port because the principal risk in plant health and animal health are the international commerce. Mainly pests and diseases need to be stopped at the first entrance to the country and this is the case. I think after many difficulties to build this facility, we are now in the moment to start operation and I think this will be good for Belizean country.”

 

While similar treatment facilities are at all other major points of entry in the country, this technology is yet to reach smaller ports. While it helps to stop bugs and diseases from coming in, it also helps to reduce the risk with export products and containers. Minister Hulse says this modern quarantine system will not only help to protect the health and sustainability of the industry, but ultimately the safety and well-being of consumers.

 

Godwin Hulse

“This is to try to ensure that produce coming into this country are not threatened by things that hitch a ride in vehicles and other containers that may come in because that is what it really is. When I did the Santa Elena one somebody to said that it is nonsense because they come through the bush, and yes, I know all that, but we are talking about the ones that hitch a ride that you can’t see. The ones that come across the borders they travel on their own – some of them have wings and other things. But these micro creatures are the ones we catch with this kind of facility. So, I am very, very happy today and we are inaugurating this and this will be a facility that will mark the progress in protecting agriculture development in this country.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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