Mangoes from weevil-hit countries banned

manggaTHE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) has banned the importation of mangoes from various countries where the crop is known to be infested with mango weevils, after the Philippines was declared free of the pest except for Palawan.

In an administrative circular dated Nov. 11 and published in newspapers this week, DA reiterated its quarantine over Palawan because of the presence of Mango Pulp Weevil (MPW), whose scientific name is Sternochetus frigidus (Fabr.).

The whole country, meanwhile, was declared by the circular as free from Mango Seed Weevil (MSW), with the scientific name of Sternochetus mangiferae (Fabr.).

The DA circular ordered the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) “to strengthen and strictly implement phytosanitary measures in areas where MPW is present.”

This entailed prohibiting “the movement, transfer and carrying of mango planting materials, fruits or parts thereof from Palawan,” except for limited quantities and for experimental purposes subject to permits secured from the Director of BPI.

The circular stated that “quarantine measures around the island should be strengthened” in accordance with Special Quarantine Administrative Order No. 20, series of 1987. The 1987 order empowers the BPI Director to ask for assistance from national and local officials, as well as the Armed Forces in Palawan.

Apart from reiterating the quarantine over Palawan, DA banned the importation of mangoes from nine Asia-Pacific countries infested with MPW, and 52 countries and territories worldwide infested with MSW.

Countries infested with MPW were: Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Thailand.

Meanwhile, countries infested with MSW were Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Yemen. In Africa, affected countries and territories were the British Indian Ocean Territory, Central African Republic, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, Réunion, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

In the Americas, affected countries and territories were Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Hawaii, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and US Virgin Islands. Produce from Australia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, New Caledonia, Northern Mariana Islands and Tonga are at risk of weevil infestation as well.

Persons violating the order or forging, altering and destroying documents would be punished by a fine of up to P20,000, and subject to imprisonment.

The declaration that the country was free of MSW and partly free of MPW was a result of a 10-month detection survey carried out by the BPI in 2007 and funded by the United States Department of Agriculture Food for Progress.

“Strong scientific evidence that will prove absence of these pests in the Philippines (except for Palawan) will lead to an area freedom certification which will allow sourcing of mangoes for export from different areas of the country. This will also allow access to potential markets which have restrictions on mango importation from countries where these weevils are present,” read the survey’s abstract attached in the published circular.

The survey of 234,000 mango trees and 2.7 million fruits showed “not a single specimen (egg, larva, pupa, adult) of MPW and MSW was recovered which indicated that both MPW and MSW are absent in the Philippines.”

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