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Dominican Republic declared free of Med Fly pest

The Dominican Republic was declared on Friday, 7 July 2017, free of the Mediterranean Fly, two years after an outbreak that led to considerable damage to the agricultural industry. To accomplish the difficult task, the country was assisted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) working with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that used the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), an environmentally-friendly nuclear technique. IAEA implemented insect birth control using radiation to sterilize a large number of male flies that were then released to mate with wild females. Since these do not produce any offspring, the insect population is suppressed, or eliminated, over time.

Speaking at the event in Santo Domingo to declare the country free of the insect pest, Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez explained that the country has benefited from the transfer of knowledge that has prepared it to quickly respond to any possible future pest or disease outbreaks.

The effort to help the Dominican Republic was carried out together with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the International Regional Organization for Plant and Animal Health (OIRSA), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the joint Guatemala-Mexico-USA Moscamed Programme.

The outbreak of the Mediterranean fruit fly in the Dominican Republic was first reported in March 2015 near the popular tourist city of Punta Cana, and rapidly spread to a 2,000 square kilometers-area in the east of the country.

Although 200 kilometers away from producing areas, an immediate import ban was placed on several agricultural products, including avocado, citrus fruits, papaya and peppers by major trading partners, including the United States, Haiti and Japan. The ban resulted in an estimated loss of US$42 million in fruit and vegetable exports in 2015 alone, putting thousands of jobs at risk. As a result of the eradication efforts, the import bans of Dominican fresh fruits and vegetables have since been gradually lifted.

Source: DR1, Livestream

July 11, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated August 15, 2017 at 6:47 PM
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