DoA takes aim at fruit flies

| 20/02/2009

(CNS): They may be very small in the grand scheme of things but fruit flies can present a significant threat to crops — one of the reasons why staff from the Department of Agriculture were putting them under the microscope last month during a week-long workshop. Partnering with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the DoA’s aim was to improve its capability to identify fruit flies of economic importance.

The workshop was also designed to help staff create a network of trapping sites to aid in the early detection of the potential entry of fruit flies into the Cayman Islands as well as confirm the absence or presence of fruit flies in the Cayman Islands. Other goals were to learn identification techniques, which will enhance the capabilities of the front line Inspection Services staff to detect, identify and prevent the entry of the fruit flies and enable the DoA to fully participate in and contribute data to the regional programmes related to the identification, monitoring and management of fruit flies within the Caribbean.

The department was also seeking to train and enable the DoA staff to respond to the needs of the agricultural sector in the event of the confirmation of the presence of these pests or their entry intothe country.

Minister for Agriculture Kurt Tibbetts, who is also a fruit grower, said he was comforted by the fact that the  DoA is taking steps to improve local crop outputs, and undertaking training to protect the existing fruit production

Lionel Wayne De Chi, Agricultural Scientist with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), highlighted the USDA’s commitment to assist the Caribbean region in combating exotic pests of which fruit flies have been identified as a priority area.

“The region is aware of the fact that when there is an invasion of a pest to any country in the Caribbean area this eventually spreads to the other islands, and as such, this group has decided that transparency and the sharing of information between each other must be a cornerstone in the success to the forum,” said De Chi.

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