Hon Audley Shaw, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, and Monique Solomon, Entomologist, Plant Quarantine/Plant Inspection Branch, Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries; view specimen of frosty pod rot infected cocoa during a tour of displays at the Opening Ceremony of the 11th Annual Caribbean Plant Health Directors’ Forum held in Montego Bay, St. James, on July 16.
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon. Audley Shaw, has called on regional plant health directors to provide the strategies to safeguard the Caribbean against plant pests and diseases.
Minister Shaw made the appeal as he delivered the keynote address at the official opening ceremony of the 11th Annual Caribbean Plant Health Directors’ Forum at the Iberostar Conference Centre in Montego Bay.
As a region, Minister Shaw told delegates from 26 countries, “our ability to produce crops to meet national and regional demands continues to be plagued by many issues, chief among them being threats to plant health, which have over the years, been exacerbated by climate change.”
The Minister said, further, that all the traditional crops, coffee, cocoa, banana and sugar cane, within the Caribbean that were major income earners have been affected by pests that have adversely impacted the economic performance of these crops.
In the context of the importance of agriculture to the economies of the small-island States, as is the case in the Caribbean, the importance of plant health could not be overemphasized, Shaw said.
He listed that new legislation from major export markets; international agreements and standards for fresh produce are among the challenges faced by regional countries in keeping abreast of initiatives to safeguard plant health and noted the need to ensure a clean seed bank for crops.
The three-day regional conference will examine current threats to plant health in the Caribbean and will devise strategies to strengthen regional cooperation and boost resilience and viability relating to plant health.
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