Antigua to Import Oranges from Florida
The government has decided that Antigua and Barbuda will resume the importation of oranges from Florida without the benefit of a critical piece of document from the unit that is mandated to prevent the introduction and control the spread of agricultural pest in the country.
The twin-island state had discontinued the importation of oranges from Florida because they contained fruit flies – an invasive pest that infested farmlands in Miami. The country is still obtaining bitter lemon and limes from the United States territory.
The decision to resume imports from Florida was made when the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda met last week. Director of Agriculture, Jedidiah Maxim and the Head of the Plant Protection Unit, Dr. Janil Gore Francis were also in attendance.
”Having kept the fruit off the tables for about one year, the officials also decided that importation of oranges from Florida would also be permitted to enter Antigua,” Chief of Staff Lionel “Max” Hurst, stated in the weekly Cabinet note.
It was also noted that “the Cabinet was persuaded that the danger to Antigua’s citrus fruit plants was de-minimised and there was agreement that importation can commence.”
The Plant Protection Unit, which falls under the Ministry of Agriculture, has the duty to determine the risk associated with the importation of certain imports.
Gore-Francis told OBSERVER media that her department was awaiting the pest list to determine whether or not Antigua and Barbuda could resume importation.
She said this information was shared with government officials who had a keen interest in ensuring that the citrus fruit was back on the tables in Antigua.
“There is not much citrus on the island, but if that particular pest comes in we don’t have any citrus for it to attack. But they were informed that there are other pests that could affect other fruits in Antigua if they enter with the oranges,” Gore-Francis said.
Without going into further details, the head of the unit said that she has already received a pest list from St. Lucia and Jamaica.
Antigua and Barbuda usually imports oranges from Dominica, but the neighbouring island was devastated by the passage of Hurricane Maria last September.
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