Whole Sweet Potato Weevil Infestation

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The following is an update to the recall of whole sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) due to suspected sweet potato weevil (Cylas formicarius) infestation and other crop pathogens made on July 26th, 2022. The voluntary recall of sweet potato made by the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) that were offered for sale from June 24th through July 15th, 2022, still remains in effect. Anyone who believes they may still have any of the dated batch in storage, should not eat, sell or serve any of this product but instead, discard it immediately.

Subsequent to a preliminary investigation at the Produce Exchange at BAIC, a multi-agency investigation, led by the Plant Protection Unit (PPU) at BAHFSA was carried out on the island of Andros, specifically on North Andros. Other stakeholders in attendance included the Department of Agriculture, BAIC, CARDI and the Food Safety and Quality Unit (BAHFSA).

The key findings and recommendations emanating from that mission were shared among the stakeholders and included an action plan which highlighted agency responsibilities in addressing the matter and disseminating the information to Farmers.

The sweet potato weevil, though a serious pest of sweet potatoes, can be controlled with the implementation of good agricultural practices.

The PPU has recommended the resumption of trade of sweet potatoes from North Andros to New Providence pending the implementation of short term measures highlighted in their report, namely

1. A phytosanitary inspection system at the Packing House and BAMSI to detect and report sweet potato weevils and other pests associated with sweet potato consignments;
2. A record-keeping and traceability system at the Packing House and BAMSI;
3. Temporarily restricting all sweet potato inspections (by authorized officers) and trade to the Packing
House and BAMSI only;
4. Uninspected sweet potato consignments originating from other sources should not be allowed to leave North Andros

Farmers and those growing sweet potato, including staff at the Packing Houses and Produce Exchange are asked to stay tuned for information, including any training by the various agencies to learn more about best practices in growing sweet potatoes and controlling sweet potato weevil infestation.

Feel free to contact BAHFSA at bahfsa@bahamas.gov.bs or patriciajjohnson@bahamas.gov.bs for additional information.