The Ministry of Agriculture is increasing efforts to safeguard the agriculture industry from pests and diseases which can affect food supply, natural resources, and ecosystems.
This was done through the recent launch of the ‘Don’t Pack a Pest Programme’ at the conference room of the Grenada Airports Authority. It is being done in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), US Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), the California Department of Food and Agriculture, Customs, the Grenada Ports Authority, Grenada Airports Authority and other stakeholders.
Understanding the reality and consequences of packing pests, Heather Curlett, Programme Coordinator of the Don’t Pack a Pest-USDA, APHI, explained; “The travellers will be able to understand the key role they play in the introduction and spread of pests. This is a unique opportunity to increase the awareness of intraregional and international travellers about the risks they take in packing and carrying agricultural items.”
This programme has supported more than 50 ports of entry where signs and/ or videos are displayed in the US and the Caribbean; “The pest can move into the US and around the region, and it can have adverse effects; as it is estimated that 10-20 % of all global crops are destroyed by insects. It is our hope that the awareness can help to control the potential increases,” explained Peter Kolshorn, Principal Officer (Ag.) at the US Embassy in Grenada.
Being the 10th country to successfully launch this programme, and understanding the impact of pests in Grenada, Minister of State with responsibility for Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Senator the Hon. Adrian Thomas, who recalled serving in the Public Service at the Pest Management Unit, at a time when the Agriculture industry was dealing with African Locusts, speaks highly of this initiative.
He said it will assist Plant Quarantine and Pest Management Officers to safeguard the sector, as they will be able to close the gap on raising awareness on how there can be greater control of the number of pests and diseases transferred at the points of entry. “In the past, fruits have slipped through the gaps in what can sometimes be a porous system; when that happens it sometimes destroys our agricultural crops and livestock. The Ministry hopes that this can assist in safeguarding Grenada, the Caribbean and beyond. We are all aware that our food security will be challenged if one or more of these pests reach our shore.”
The programme will be established at ports of entry, promotional items bearing the simple message, “Don’t Pack a Pest,” in their baggage, encouraging travellers to declare agricultural items when travelling to the US and other Caribbean Territories.