Photo: Ian Ransley/Flickr. Jamaican customs officials will be checking passengers for looking out for plantains or bananas like these hidden on their persons.

Kingston, Jamaica–September 16th, 2020–“Amnesty bins have been installed at both international airports, as part of efforts to prevent plant and animal diseases from entering the island,” the Jamaica government announced yesterday.

(Travelers should beware as is not clear as to which airports are referred to, as Jamaica has three international airports, Norman Manley, Sangster, and Ian Fleming.)

Chief Plant Quarantine/Produce Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Sanniel Wilson-Graham, said the amnesty bins allow travelers to voluntarily discard any plant, plant products or animal products that are not permitted to enter the island.

Photo: Jamaica Information Service.

“There is a declaration that travelers must make on entering Jamaica. That declaration is actually on the immigration form and there is actually a fine once that declaration is not made and it is discovered by Jamaica Customs,” Mrs. Wilson- Graham told JIS News.

She said that in addition to the bins, a public service announcement will be played at the airports reminding travelers to declare all plant and animal products.

“There is a point at which when they enter the country, they will see these signs asking them to discard of their plant and animal products. Beyond that point we are going to be engaging Customs to start charging persons for illegal imports,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Wilson-Graham told JIS News that the country is on high alert for pests, such as the Mediterranean fruit fly and the Tropical Race 4.

“What we are trying to do is raise the awareness of the public to the importance of actually not carrying in a plant; plant product or an animal product that potentially carry a disease from another country that we do not have and can cause serious economic impact in trying to manage, contain and eradicate that pest, but more importantly, it will ultimately affect our food security,” she explained.

Tropical Race 4 is a fungus that causes Panama disease in bananas and can wipe out whole plantations.

In August, 2019 Jamaica inaugurated a national task force set up by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries to implement measures to address the potential threat of the Tropical Race 4 (TR4) disease.

The disease affects bananas and plantains. Infected plants typically experience yellowing and wilting of the leaves. The pathogen is resistant to fungicides and until now, its control is limited to phytosanitary measures.

Unlike many countries, Jamaica does not appear to be overly concerned about marijuana imports.