Friday, November 26, 2010

AG REPORT shows Belize Government attitude and rules are wrong on CITRUS GREENING in Belize.

Government takes the tack that CITRUS GREENING can be cured only by controlling nurseries and cutting infected trees. A Florida citrus grower shows us this is wrong in an article in the AG REPORT.

November 24, 2010

Some concerns have been raised by some citrus growers in the south about the destruction of their nurseries. They are saying that the reason given to them is because their nursery was not approved. Love News spoke with the Francisco Gutierrez who is the Technical Director for Plant Health at the Belize Agricultural Health Authority and Chairman of the Belize Task Force for Citrus Greening.

Francisco Gutierrez; Chairman, Belize Task Force for Citrus Greening

“The initiative currently being carried out by BAHA if for the removal of non-compliance nurseries operating in Belize at the moment for citrus. This has become necessary because since the discovery of the disease in Belize almost two years ago. We had put in place certain regulations that mandated that nurseries need to be produces under screened conditions. The previous regulations for citrus entailed that all citrus nurseries have to produce a certain way and registered with the Citrus Growers Association. Since the inception of the disease problem in the county the movement of plants was halted and later on released for nursery owners to move all their current stock. So happens that many nursery operators moved some of their plants but retained some and even went through the process of replanting or continuing to produce more plants to be distributed within the industry. There is a very high likelihood and it was also confirmed though laboratory testing that many of these nurseries are infected if not all because they are not protected with the appropriate screen.”

Gutierrez says that nursery operators have been informed about the legislation and were given enough time to remove their inventory.

Francisco Gutierrez

“They are now being informed in writing too that their nurseries need to be moved. We have had many meeting in the past with stakeholders; with nursery owners explaining to them that they couldn’t continue producing like this people just producing under this modality totally ignoring the requirements for nurseries. Despite the way it looks this is a very necessary measure we have to put in place if we want to protect the industry from further spread and devastation of this disease. Screening the nurseries is a necessity all over the world where citrus greening has been found.”

According to Gutierrez 70 to 80 non-complaint nurseries were found countrywide and the destruction process began last week. Love News spoke with CEO at the Citrus Growers Association Henry Anderson who says the nursery operators will be compensated.

Henry Anderson; CEO, CGA

“We are aware of it and we have been getting feedback from nursery owners about what has been happening. What CGA will be doing, CGA will be calling a meeting to meet with the growers to look at what has occurred. We have been doing some work screen nurseries, what we call comunit nurseries in place in the industry and also to identify lines of credit for larger nurseries to be able to switch from the open scenario to the screened nurseries. One of the obvious issues for the nursery owners will be the whole matter of getting back into it and compensation for the plants taken out. So we will be holding a meeting with them. CGA has a leadership role in the industry and when things like this happen we have to step up to the plate and assist in getting things back together. That is what we intend to do.”

Anderson says the meeting will be held next Thursday.

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