Grenada Holds Tabletop Simulation Exercise For Tomato Leaf Miner (Tuta Absoluta) 

PR – Grenada has evaluated its safeguard systems  through its analysis of the National Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that deals with the  Tomato Leaf Miner or Tuta Absoluta

Extension and Plant Quarantine Officers, representatives of the Seaport and Airport authorities,  farmers and others recently participated in a tabletop simulation exercise, to identify gaps and  possible action for response to an incursion by Tomato Leaf Miner, should the pest be identified  here. “This is a plant quarantine pest; the main host is tomatoes. It damages the leaves, fruits,  and stems, but related plants of the Solanaceae can also be affected,” explained Pest  Management Officer Thaddeus Peters. 

The exercise, which was organized by the Pest Management Unit (PMU), falls under the  Greater Caribbean Safeguarding Initiative (GCSI) project, implemented by the Inter-American  Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA). 

IICA’s National Specialist Derek Charles, spoke of the significant role that the exercise can  play in helping to protect agricultural outputs and commodities, ensuring that crops can thrive  in an environment that is free of pests and diseases. “Awareness at this point is critical; we  need to be aware of certain species like the Leaf Miner that causes major damage to the sector  and keep it away from our shores. The exercise will help us to prepare and activate a full-scale  response should pests like these, which can cause major damage to the agriculture sector, reach  our shores.”  

Grenada’s simulation exercise follows similar exercises in Dominica, St. Lucia, and other  Caribbean Countries that have not recorded any cases of the pest. Officials here, however, will  be increasing awareness and education on the Tuta Absoluta. 

The pest has been identified in Haiti; which has been added to the list of countries that the  Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS) has identified to be infested by tomato leaf miner  and which has market access for tomato into the United States.

Due to its high reproductive rate, all life stages can be found in the field once introduced and  established. The Larvae of insects that feed aggressively can cause highly damaging effects on  tomatoes and other vegetables. 

This project comes on the heels of two other regional initiatives: the “Don’t Pack a Pest,” A  signage project designed to raise public awareness regarding the risks associated with  passengers potentially introducing pests and disease by carrying agricultural and food items  when travelling. The second initiative is Preventing Costs of Invasive Alien Species (IAS) in  Barbados and countries of the OECS. This is funded by the Centre for Agriculture and  Biosciences International (CABI) and implemented by IICA.