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Plant health fundamental to food security, says Shaw

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

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ST JAMES, Jamaica — Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Audley Shaw, is calling on regional plant health directors to identify new strategies aimed at safeguarding the region's agriculture and plant health, which he says is a fundamental pillar to achieving the region's food security and economic growth.

The minister was speaking at the opening of the 11th Annual Caribbean Plant Health Directors (CPHD) Forum, on Monday, at the Iberostar Hotel in Montego Bay, St James.

“The efforts and actions of the regional and national vanguards for plant health must reflect the realities of the space in which we operate. We must now consider innovative strategies and technologies that will see us implementing effective pre-order, port of entry and post-border measures to safeguard agriculture and plant health,” Shaw emphasised.

He said the region's ability to produce crops to meet national and regional demands continues to be plagued by many issues, such as pests and climate change.

Shaw outlined that, currently, the ministry's Plant Quarantine and Produce Inspection Branch and the Banana Board are implementing measures to respond to the threat of the Tropical Race 4 (TR4) to Jamaica's bananas.

Meanwhile, the minister said that significant strides have been made to mitigate some of the challenges being faced within the sector.

“Locally, we now have a Green Paper for our National Seed Policy. This piece of legislation, when finalised, will ensure clean seeds are put into production. Jamaica has also conducted pest prioritisation training for all technical staff,” he noted.

Shaw also noted that the Pest Risk Analysis Unit (PRAU) of the ministry has drafted several emergency action plans for priority pests, which will allow Jamaica to be more proactive in its response to outbreaks of pests.

The forum is being held from July 16 to 19 under the theme 'Safeguarding Plant Health, Protecting the Environment'.

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