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BAHA Holds Press Conference on Asian Bean Thrips

Twelve days ago the authorities in agriculture announced the discovery of the Asian Bean Trip in Belize.  The Asian Trip is a tiny, elongated yellow and dark insect measuring two millimeters and found mainly in flowers, buds and leaves and causes stunted growth and deformation of the flowers and growing tips.  Today the Ministry of Agriculture held a press conference to discuss the pest and the damaged crops in Belize.  Acting Managing Director of BAHA, Francisco Gutierrez spoke on the findings so far on the bug and how it has affected local crops.

Francisco Gutierrez, Acting Managing Director, BAHA: “This pest is a very tiny elongated yellow and dark insect measuring about two millimeters and found mainly affecting flowers, tender buds and young leaves in the target crops. It causes stunted growth and by affecting the flowers it reduces or can even up to 100% sometimes of damage reduces or eliminates any production out of the plant. It causes severe stunting in sever conditions and the whole crop can be lost. The results of the delimiting surveys conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, BAHA and Cardi and other entities found that this pest is distributed throughout the country. However the northern part of the country seems to be more affected, a little less so the western part of the country and in declining order as far as Toledo. The main hosts of these pests include beans of all varieties inclusive of red kidney bean, black eye, pinto etc. It also affects black eyed peas quite severely but it’s known to affect other leguminous crops such as soybean, pigeon pea, lima bean and even peanuts. We have found them in soybean and peanuts here in Belize as well as in other wild leguminous species. It’s even known to affect potatoes but we never really found it affecting that commodity since that commodity was already being harvested. In the case of Belize we found that the main bean crop for this year seems to have escaped the brunt of the infection because by the time the pest exploded perhaps 90% of the bean or more had already flowered and set pods and so the effect was not all that much. Any late planting of the commodities resulted in severe damages indicative of the very destructive nature of this pest for future plantings.” 

According to Andrew Harrison, the Chief Agricultural Officer and Jose Novelo, the authorities acted immediately once the news of the Asian Trip surfaced in Belize.

 

Andrew Harrison, Chief Agriculture Officer

Andrew Harrison, Chief Agriculture Officer: “As soon as the Ministry of Agriculture heard about the outbreak of CRIPS in beans it held a meeting with the stakeholders, primarily producers and some of the exporters to discuss the situation with respect to the production of beans. This was important because from the year before with COVID we had established a food stock availability platform where we were monitoring the availability of the primary foods that Belize consumes and having ran into problems with the availability of beans towards the ending of 2020 we thought that we had to get more information with respect to what was being produced and what crop was actually being affected. What we discovered was that the damage of this insect was primarily on black eyed peas. Now black eyed peas are normally exported to CARICOM and other countries in the world.  We as a country do not utilize too much black eyed peas so to a certain extent that was a relief.”

Jose Novelo

Jose Novelo:  “At the moment we’re at the onset of a dry season meaning it’s time for harvesting of most grains then on May we have the start of the planting of the crops that will be harvested around August/ September. So this time frame that we’re looking at that by the time we are to plant in May and harvest in August or September but what benefit is right now is that most of the planting is corn but coming September/November we’ll start planting the crops that were affected mostly this year which is the black eyed pea and soybean.”

 

Love News understands that this is the first report of this pest in Belize; only Florida in the United States has officially reported the pest in the Americas.  Based on a delimiting survey, BAHA has announced that the pest has been detected in all bean-producing areas of Belize.