On February 23, 2021, Hon. Jose Abelardo Mai, Minister of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise, met with grain farmers at the Yo Creek Agriculture Station in the Orange Walk District to discuss black-eyed beans production which has been affected by an infestation of the pest, Thysanoptera.
Grain farmers from Shipyard, Blue Creek, Indian Creek, Little Belize, Neuland and Spanish Lookout attended the meeting, some on virtual platforms, to discuss a way forward to control the pest. Minister Mai reaffirmed the Ministry’s commitment to producers and highlighted the need to work together to confront the dangers presented to farmers.
Thysanoptera, or thrips, are tiny insects that damage plants by draining plant fluids. So far, the pest has affected black-eyed beans production in the areas of Indian Creek, Orange Walk District and Spanish Lookout, Cayo District.
Personnel from the Belize Agricultural Health Authority have been in the field to collect samples of the pest to determine its specific classification to make decisions about how to combat it. Extension officers from the Ministry have also been liaising with farmers to help contain the spread as much as possible and monitor its progress. Seemingly, only black-eyed beans are primarily affected by this variety of thrips which has an affinity for that legume.
It is noteworthy that whereas Belize produces black-eyed beans, red kidney beans and other varieties for local consumption and for export, the black-eyed beans are particularly export-oriented and the loss of portions of the harvest will result in a loss to income generation. Furthermore, the thrips pest present in the bean crop does not pose any danger to humans.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security and Enterprise will continue its monitoring and response activities on this situation.
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