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Mar 28, 2018

Mexican Limes Let Through After Treatment

Information reaching News Five is that some one hundred and thirty boxes of limes have been released from the cargo section at the Belize-Mexico border. The fruit is scarce in Belize and the Ministry of Agriculture had agreed to a pest risk analysis for importation, though it is not clear if it has been completed. The Belize Agricultural Health Authority had earlier refused entry of the limes as they were found to be contaminated with insect eggs. Under normal conditions contaminated limes would have either been returned to the seller or destroyed at the port of entry. But under pressure, the Mexican branch of OIRSA was asked to treat the lime with a banned substance in Belize, methyl bromide, before being re-packaged and allowed to enter. Insects found in the limes were taken as samples for proper identification so as to determine if the insects are of quarantine importance.  Methyl bromide is an ozone depleting fumigant which, according to the United Nations Environmental Programme, is sixty times more destructive to the ozone layer than Chlorine or Chlorofluorocarbons. However, it is allowed for use in emergency quarantine and pre-shipment use, hence the reason why treatment was done on the Mexican side of the border. Here is what Ministry of Agriculture C.E.O. Jose Alpuche told News Five earlier this week.


Jose Alpuche

Jose Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Agriculture [File: March 26th, 2018]

“What we have right now, though, is a tremendous demand from Belizeans but also too a tremendous demand from the tourism market, because it’s not just the fish for Easter – it’s the margaritas that the tourists want. And we’re coming under growing pressure from the tourism market to be able to have fresh lime on the market; we’re trying to do it the proper way. The other side of this coin is that there is a quite a bit of contraband coming in, and we absolutely need to do it properly. If we import formally, that will take the difficulty, it will take the risk we have from contraband products coming in illegally.  There is quite a bit of limes coming on-stream in the future; there’s quite a bit of acreage being planted. Look at the evolution of this thing: what had happened when HLB came out, there was a decision taken long before I was in the Ministry, to cut back all the limes, including the trees held by individuals; that created quite a shortage. The B.M.D.C. has asked for the permit, simply because with the B.M.D.C., we are able to stop the importation as local limes become available. This is something that it’s the best balance that we could afford at this point in time.”

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