Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV) can cause severe fruit loss in tomatoes and peppers. It is easily spread through the use of contaminated tools, hands, and plant-to-plant contact. It was first reported in tomatoes in Israel in 2014. Since then, it has been reported in China, Mexico, Germany (eradicated), Italy, Greece, the United Kingdom, Jordan, Turkey, and the Netherlands. The virus was detected and eradicated from a California tomato greenhouse in 2018.
The Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is taking immediate action to prevent the entry of the Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus into the Federation and protect its tomato and pepper production worth more than $1.8 million annually.
The Department of Agriculture (DOA) in light of this new pest alert is revising the import requirements for Solonaceous crops affected by the mentioned virus. Per the revised import requirements, DOA will:
• Require all tomato, pepper, and eggplant seeds and seedlings imported from countries where the virus exists to be officially tested and certified free of the disease.
• Require all tomato and pepper fruit imported from Mexico, Israel, and the Netherlands to be inspected at the point of origin to ensure it is free of disease symptoms.
• Increase inspections at the Federation’s Ports of Entry to ensure imported tomato and pepper fruit entering from Mexico, Israel and the Netherlands does not show any signs of disease upon arrival.
Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus is currently not present in St. Kitts and Nevis and we must do all that we can to ensure that it is not introduced, as it would have a devastating economic impact on the country. In addition to this prohibition, travelers and their baggage from affected countries may be subject to random searches at the main airports in the Federation to ensure compliance with the phytosanitary measures set out by the Department of Agriculture. It is also reminded that the import of all live plants, cut flowers and branches, fruits, vegetables, seeds and regulated articles such as sand, soil and aggregates require an import permit for entry into the Federation and are subject to inspection on arrival.
The Department of Agriculture looks forward to the continued cooperation and collaboration of all stakeholders, as we work together to prevent the introduction of exotic pests and diseases into our Federation.