The Belize Agriculture Health Authority (BAHA) is reporting that the population of the Asian Bean Thrip has dramatically fallen since its detection. BAHA had first detected the pest in February and warned of the danger it posed to the multimillion-dollar grain industry. The tiny insect affects crops such as red kidney beans and black eye peas but is also known to affect other hosts including soybean, pigeon pea, lima bean, peanuts and even potatoes. Acting managing director at BAHA Francisco Gutierrez says that while populations have decreased the department is gearing up for the upcoming legume planting season.
Francisco Gutierrez, Acting Managing Director, BAHA: “Given that the pest tends to be restricted to leguminous crop such as soybeans, beans etc at the moment there is nothing being produced in that respect and so the populations have really gone down however we do expect that when the new planting season comes on board that it’s going to become an issue again so for that we have a task force that has been looking into that. We have been proposing research activities, ecological studies etc so that in preparation for the next planting season. We are also working on a training program for farmers mainly because one of the major strategies is going to be to implement surveillance activities to detect new outbreaks and to tackle them before they become a huge problem. So it’s going to be a combination of pest management strategies that we will be putting in place and this group is going to be overseeing all of these activities happening at the time; it’s a multisectoral approach we’re implementing at the moment.”
Gutierrez added that in the next month, training sessions aimed at monitoring the insect population will begin.