Farmers have been encouraged to make applications to the Pesticide Control Board if they are genuinely interested in bringing chemicals into the island.
Speaking against the backdrop of complaints by some farmers that they should be able to import their own pesticides, Entomologist, Brett Taylor, and Agricultural Officer (Plant Pathology), Michael James, recently threw out a challenge to farmers to test the system. They were speaking during a recent training seminar for farmers at the Springhall Land Lease Project in St.Lucy.
Mr. James, who heard farmers’ charges of being thwarted by the lengthy application process, explained: “Decisions (by the Board) are based on the consideration of a whole lot of information.
It will take a long time if applicants are tardy in providing the necessary information.”
Highlighting the need for an increase in the range of sprays which are on the market, Mr. James said they were more favourable to the importation of biological pesticides, which are those derived from plants, fungi and bacteria that are an effective alternative to environmentally dangerous pesticides.
“If you know there is a chemical out there that you want to use, complete the paperwork and bring it in – just, test us!” Mr. James challenged.
In explaining the Ministry’s role in this endeavour, Mr. Taylor said while they could import samples for experimental purposes, importation for public use was a private concern. He, however, stressed that farmers were well within their rights to consider importation.
“If farmers want to get in a group and bring in pesticides, they can make application to the Pest Control Board – bring all the necessary data and after that a decision will be made. It is not up to the Ministry of Agriculture, we do not bring in chemical products,” he said. “There are enough of you here at Spring Hall to form a cooperative or some other grouping.”
The Pesticide Control Board is chaired by Deputy Chief Agricultural Officer, Ralph Farnum, and is represented by other officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Health and the Environment, as well as the University of the West Indies.