(Jamaica Gleaner) – Effective February 1, disinfectant mats will be installed at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston as part of the Government’s efforts to reduce the risk of plant and animal pests entering the country.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw made the announcement on Wednesday at the Launch of the International Year of Plant Health at Hope Gardens, St Andrew.
He said that measure is being undertaken as a pilot exercise and is aimed at protecting the country’s agricultural sector.
He noted that last January, the Ministry collaborated with the Trade Board to implement a mandatory pre-border sanitisation of used vehicles imported into the island in order to prevent soil, which is a major carrier of pests, from entering the country.
“The Ministry is also working with the Mexican Government and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) on an Agriculture Canine Programme to help reduce the number of unauthorised plants and crops being smuggled into the country,” he said.
In addition, he said that the Plant Quarantine Act is being modernised to make it more comprehensive, and “soon Jamaica will have a modern plant health act in line with international standards”.
“We are also moving to modernise the Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection Branch, which is our national plant-protection organisation, to better safeguard our country, agriculture and the environment,” he added, noting that the Research and Development Division is also being upgraded.
Shaw said that the protection of plant and animal health is everybody’s business and is a fundamental pillar for achieving the level of production and productivity needed for national food security and economic growth.
“We all have a stake and a responsibility in keeping Jamaica’s plants and agriculture healthy, and so we wish to engage all of us, every single Jamaican, to rally around the national drive,” he said.
He said that the observance of the International Year of Plant Health provides an opportunity “to intensify our commitment to ensuring the health and wellness of plants and, consequently, of all living things on our planet”.
The year 2020 was declared the International Year of Plant Health by the United Nations General Assembly in 2018 under the theme ‘Protecting Plant, Protecting Life’, and is aimed at raising awareness of the importance of protecting plants and agriculture.