Video: Minister On Bananas & Plant Biosecurity

August 14, 2020

Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban held a press conference today where he provided more information about the recent shipment of bananas and also stressed the importance of plant biosecurity.

Minister Roban said, “I am pleased today, once again, to announce to Bermuda that yes we have bananas! It is our hope and belief that we now, as an island, will have access to a steady supply of bananas.

“Earlier this week Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] personnel began examining the shipment of bananas which arrived on the dock Sunday, August 9th, and have examined about 80% so far. Inspections are expected to be completed by tomorrow [Saturday, August 15th].

“So far the bananas checked have been clean and pest free and some of those bananas are already available in local grocery stores – which were received, as I witnessed this past Tuesday, with great enthusiasm from the general public. Even in these early days stores have struggled, in a good way, to keep them on the shelves. Bermudians have, with joy, welcomed back their favourite fruit to the island.

Acting DENR Director Terry Lynn Thompson, Minister Walter Roban, Mr. Roland Hill

Minister Roban Bermuda Aug 14 2020

“This has been a long process, but I and the team at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources are committed to ensuring that Bermuda has access to pest free bananas.

“As I reported in a Ministerial statement in February, this journey with bananas began in late 2018 due to continued contamination of pests being found in imported banana shipments. Many bunches of imported bananas were found to be infested with two insect pests – scale and mealy bug.

“Inspections of local distributors and grocery stores at that time revealed infestations with these pests to be widespread throughout all imported bananas. The number of live mealy bug and mealy bug eggs was alarmingly high and posed a serious risk to Bermuda’s banana industry, local crops and ornamental plants. The scale and eggs were detected on all parts of the imported banana fruit.

“Independent testing verified the mealy bug as a species that was not known to Bermuda.

“Plant biosecurity is of paramount importance to any country, to safe guard food security, sustainability of agricultural and horticultural production, and also protect the livelihood of farmers and landscapers.

“It is the work of the team at DENR Plant Protection Lab to ensure that Bermuda remains free of many devastating pests which are causing serious damage and loss elsewhere in the region.

“Exposing these pests to the local environment could lead to their establishment on locally grown bananas, fruit trees and other crops resulting in reduction in yields and crop quality. We must prevent the entry, establishment and spread of invasive species in Bermuda.

“There is a process local importers must follow which requires their product to be pre-inspected in the country of origin prior to export. Upon arrival into Bermuda, each shipment is inspected by our own trained DENR staff. This process is meticulous and rigid, but it is in place to ensure clear, healthy and uninfested produce and agricultural products enter Bermuda.

“The actions taken to attack this problem with more intensive screening was costly to both the Government and importers. This resulted in the choice of importers to suspend banana imports in early February 2020. We remained confident that ultimately we could work with importers to implement an eventual solution.

“The shipment we have received in recent days is an example of our determination to work with willing parties to gain a solution. I wish to commend the persistence of the importer, Mr. Roland ‘Junior’ Hill of J&J Produce to do what was required to bring a successful banana shipment to Bermuda.

“While the bigger suppliers gave up on this process, the farmer, Mr. Hill, did not and he succeeded. This is no small feat.”

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Comments (7)

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  1. sage says:

    Great job J&J, I hope the mealybugs detected to be widespread earlier this year haven’t got a foothold here, the ones we have here already are enough of a pain in the neck. Ladies of the Plant Protection Lab, keep up the good work.

  2. Ringmaster says:

    Is this the best the Deputy Premier can do? Bermuda is faced with the worst financial crisis ever, and the Deputy Premier calls a new conference to announce imports of bananas are back? Bermuda is so lucky to have such talent. Shows the need to radically improve education if that’s an example of an elected official.

  3. Heya says:

    What a fool. You had nothing to do with this. Trying to steal the limelight. Shame on you.

  4. Naaarch says:

    Only in Bermuda do bananas warrant a photo op.

    Sums up the PLP.

  5. trufth says:

    Did we seriously just hold a press conference over bananas? The articles in the news plus the extensive photo op and interviews at the store didn’t suffice?

  6. Mark says:

    Only in a Fourth World country would this merit all the attention that Govt seems to feel this warrants.

  7. Broken Promises says:

    So this is what we voted for? bananas?