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Agriculture Ministry moves to implement measures to address the potential threat of Tropical Race 4

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October 2019

Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw (right), addresses a media briefing at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens offices on October 9. The press briefing was called to update the nation on the potential threat of the Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease which affects bananas and the Frosty Pod Rot Disease of Cocoa. Jamaica is on high alert to prevent the entry of the TR4 disease into the local banana and plantain industry and is strengthening initiatives to manage the Frosty Pod Rot of Cocoa. Others from left are Chief Plant Quarantine/ Produce Inspector, Sanniel Wilson, Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Roy McNeil and Permanent Secretary, Dermon Spence.

Above Body

 10 Oct 2019    communications   

The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries is moving apace to implement measures to address the potential threat of the Tropical Race (TR) 4 disease, which affects bananas and plantains.
Though the disease is not present in Jamaica, the Ministry, through the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection Branch and The Banana Board, remains vigilant and is taking proactive steps to prevent it from entering the island.
At a press conference at the Ministry’s Hope Gardens’ office on October 9, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Audley Shaw, emphasised that the disease will have devastating effects on the nation’s agriculture sector if it enters.
“This is a deadly disease with the capacity to destroy our entire industry… (so) we are acting swiftly to do everything in our powers to prevent it from entering Jamaica,” he said. Among the preventative measures to be implemented is the strengthening of border protection capabilities at airports and sea ports. This includes the installation of disinfecting mats for persons and disinfecting chambers for used motor vehicles and containers.
The interception of contraband banana, plantain and Heliconia plant parts at sea during interventions by marine police and the prohibition of the importation of banana/plantain plants, plantlets and any part of the banana plant or Heliconia from countries suspected of having the disease, are also among the measures being implemented.
Other measures include conducting widespread awareness sessions for agronomists, extension officers, plant health officers, farmers, customs officers, coast guard officers and all technicians in the agricultural sector and the general public.
In outlining the plan of action, Minister Shaw also identified a number of control measures already in place.
Among them is the use of tolerant and resistant varieties available at The Banana Board Breeding Station at Bodles in Old Harbour, such as the FHIA 01 and 25 bananas, which have shown high tolerance to the TR4.
The establishment of a diagnostic laboratory at The Banana Board to conduct preliminary diagnosis of Race 4 as well as the training of plant health officials, scientists, extension officers, border control and quarantine officers and producers on how to identify and manage the disease and carry out molecular diagnostics are among the resources already available.
In order to continuously monitor the TR4 programme, Mr Shaw said, a national task force to be chaired by The Banana Board is being established.
Other members of the task force will include representatives from the border regulatory agencies, including the Plant Quarantine Division, Customs, JDF Coast Guard, Marine Police, Airport Authority, RADA, All Island Banana Growers Association, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, farmers, the police and other relevant stakeholders.
The Minister is appealing to all Jamaicans to be on alert for the disease.

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The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF) has been charged with the responsibility of driving the integration of the production of primary agricultural produce along all the stages of the supply chain through to value added and facilitating full commercialization of outputs of the agriculture, manufacturing, and service sectors.

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