Punta Cana.- Yesterday, U.S. Embassy in Santo Domingo Agricultural Attaché, Morgan Perkins along with a team of experts from the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) visited the eastern part of the country to conduct tests and assess the progress of eradication and containment efforts of the Mediterranean fruit fly in the area.
APHIS experts arrived in Punta Cana on March 19th, others on April 6th, and seven MoscaMed Emergency experts arrived April 8th. Many of the MoscaMed experts have 15-20 years’ experience with Medfly. They are presently working closely on the teams set up by the Ministry of Agriculture encompassing, trapping, control, quarantine, identification, databases, and public education, and soon, to also include sterile fly distribution. The sterile flies, distributed from trucks and airplanes, will mate with the wild Medflies and produce no offspring, thereby breaking the lifecycle, leading to eradication.
USDA/APHIS and the MoscaMed Program plan to send numerous follow-up teams to assist the Dominican Republic in the complete eradication of this agricultural pest, which is estimated will take a year or more to eliminate.
Presence of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly In Dominican Republic
Mediterranean fruit flies (Medfly) were detected in the Punta Cana area by the Dominican Ministry of Agriculture in November 2014. Previous to that the Dominican Republic and the entire Caribbean had been free of Medfly. Medfly has the widest host range of any pest fruit fly and is considered the most important agricultural pest in the world, infesting over 300 fruit, nuts and vegetables.
On March 13, 2015, The Ministry of Agriculture notified the USDA/APHIS office in the U.S. Embassy that they had detected this pest and in letters on March 17 and 26, Minister of Agriculture, Angel Estevez, invited USDA/APHIS to send Medfly technical experts as well as Medfly Emergency Response experts from the MoscaMed Program in Guatemala, to work jointly with Dominican personnel in eradication efforts.