The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands is reminding the general public of the importance of obtaining an import permit, before proceeding to bring agricultural seeds and materials into the country.
This is in keeping with the Plant Protection Act, which states that “no person shall import or offer for importation any plant, plant product…except under the authority of a permit issued by the Minister.”
The Plant Quarantine Department, under the Pest Management Unit of the Ministry of Agriculture, is tasked with keeping out anything that threatens the viability of agriculture in Grenada, with pests being high on the list.
Pest Management Officer, Thaddeus Peters, said it is mandatory that the proper procedures be followed, to ensure that the objective of the department is met. “You need to do an application via the Asycuda Word System, which is a platform at the Customs Division. So, there is the Plant Licencing Module that you can apply to, using the services of a Customs Broker, or persons who can do it on their own, can proceed to do so. Once the application comes through, it is determined if the product is something that does not pose a great risk and once it does not, then it will be approved and the conditions will be stated,” he explained.
Plants and planting material are pathways for the introduction of pests and diseases, hence, it is advised that all recommendations from the Plant Quarantine Department must be adhered to.
“Seeds… can carry viruses; pathogens. They can carry things like bacteria and so on and plants, itself, can carry insects; nematodes. There are various pests and diseases. So, the aim – it is an international standard that does it. To move plant and plant products from country to country, you need to have that sort of regulation,” he added.
Pink Mealybug, Black Sigatoka, and Moko Disease are all pests and diseases that came into the country on some plant or planting material.
Peters said it has been challenging over the years, trying to manage the spread of these diseases. “Pest Management is not just about a Unit or Department; it is about stakeholders taking responsibility for what they have on their farm or in their back yard. We can give advice. In certain cases, we actually give direct assistance, but it is impossible to treat or manage pests on everybody’s holdings. It is a collective responsibility and people have different approaches to managing, but, at the end of the day, it is not just about the agriculture. You can have aesthetics being damaged. So, it is important that we be conscious of the risk. Whenever we import, it comes with a risk of introduction of something different,” he said.
In preventing the penetration of Grenada’s borders by foreign pests, Peters stated that cruise and cargo vessels that release anything of an agricultural nature are also regulated.