The Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, International Services (APHIS/IS) is a division of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and has been present in Belize since 1977.
The USDA Belize office is under the direct technical supervision of USDA Regional Office in Guatemala City, Guatemala. The Mission of APHIS/IS abroad is to protect American agriculture. This is achieved by working in cooperative programs with foreign governments in dealing with the different plant and animal pest and diseases of regional importance.
In Belize, the pest of main importance is the Mediteranean Fruit fly. The United States, Mexico and Guatemala have joined together in their efforts to combat this pest in the region and have formed the Moscamed Commission. The Commissionis presently working on the eradication of the Fruitfly from Mexico and Guatemala.
The USDA has assisted the government of Belize in keeping the Mediterranean fruit fly Ceratitis capitata, out of Belize since 1987. Belize is not formally partof the Moscamed Commission, however, the USDA maintains an office in Belize and has a Memorandum of Understanding of a Cooperative Program to combat this pest by providing trapping supplies, training of personnel, equipment and direct field work assistance from the USDA officer in Belize. Throughout the years Belizehas been able to detect and eradicate all medfly introductions with the assistance of the USDA.
The USDA recognizes the effort by the Belizean government to maintainits agricultural sectorfree of the medfly and has granted official recognition of this status through the publication of a ruling in the Federal Registry in August of 2000. The USDA/APHIS/IS office in Belize also is responsible fordealing with the Belize Ministry of Agriculture in matters related to export of fruits and vegetables to the U.S. from Belize but more importantly the importation from the U.S. to Belize in compliance with the sanitary and phytosanitary standards set by the World Trade Organization.
The USDA in Belize also assists with plant and animal quarantine.It encourages surveillance systems for exotic diseases such as Foot and Mouth disease, Classical Swine Fever, and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow). Should any of these diseases come into Belize, the risk of their getting into the U.S. is significantly increased because of Belize’s geographical proximity to the U.S. In an effort to safeguard American agriculture and maintain transparency, the USDA maintains a close working relationship with the Belize Agricultural Health Authority (BAHA) keeping theminformed of USDA plant and animal import requirements and regulation changes.
Over the years, the USDA has provided equipment and supplies, and diagnostic services in their laboratories in the U.S. and has provided several of our Belizean veterinarians with hands on training at the USDA high security laboratory in Plum Island, New York. Similarly, the USDA has provided quarantine assistance for plant diseases. For example, the USDAwas the leading organization that assisted whenthe Pink Hibiscus Mealybug was first introduced in Belize.