Department of Agriculture Cautions Plant Importers

Flowers-1Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS) — Plant importers in St. Kitts and Nevis are being urged to get the correct documentation before bringing in plants, seeds and other plant parts such as cut flowers into the Federation.

Department of Agriculture officials said that this will ensure that no unwanted pests and diseases are brought into St. Kitts and Nevis which can negatively impact local plants as well as the plant and animal life cycles that they support.

This is according to the Department of Agriculture which through the Plant Protection Act of St. Christopher and Nevis has the authority to protect plant life by making sure that all plant imports conform to specific terms and conditions. The Department does this by issuing import permits, once conditions are met.

Melvin James, Head of the Plant Quarantine Unit is advising all importers of plants and cut flowers such as those used by florists for arrangements to ensure that the Department of Agriculture is not left out of the planning process.

“We want you to think of us as soon as you start making your plans,” Mr. James stressed. “Coming to the Department of Agriculture should be the first step, even before placing an order. This is necessary because when you apply for a permit, we go through a process which includes checking to see whether the plants or the cut flowers are safe to bring into the Federation.”

Prospective importers of plants, seeds and plant parts must go to the Plant Quarantine Unit of the Department of Agriculture at La Guerite to apply for a permit. Once it is granted, the details of it must be shared with the supplier when placing the order. One permit is required for each order.

Mr. James revealed that the Department of Agriculture is concerned over the small number of applications for the import permit compared to the amount of imports. He emphasized that the Plant Protection Act states that all persons who import plants and plant parts without the appropriate import permit can have their plant material taken away, to be returned to the supplier, destroyed, or if found to have a disease – treated depending on the degree of infection. All of these actions will be carried out at the expense of the importer.

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