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The true reason for the ban on importing fresh carrots

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Consider for a moment what we'd want the Government to do if a notorious habitual rapist wanted to spend a few months on the Island. What about a mass murderer? In both scenarios we'd want Government to keep the culprits out. We wouldn't want to risk them coming to the Island, raping and murdering us.

It may sound funny but this is the situation with local carrots. The Carrot Rust Fly is a carrot attacker. The maggots of the fly burrow in via the roots and, according to farmer Carlos Amaral, render the carrots unmarketable.

The Bermuda Farmers' Association in a recent statement in response to a Letter to the Editor wrote: “This pest is already well established in almost all European countries. It can also be found across Canada and the US, particularly in the more northern states and including parts of California. The Carrot Rust Fly is also a pest in New Zealand and Tasmania.”

It's because the Carrot Rust Fly would wreak havoc on carrots that the Government does not allow any fresh carrots into the Island from anywhere in the world. Local carrots enjoy this special protection year round.

“Many people think the embargo is just to protect local farmers from outside competition,” said Mr Amaral. In fact the truth is more complex. If a Carrot Rust Fly did get into a field of local carrots it would quickly spread Island-wide. This would mean farmers would have to use special insecticides to combat the problem.”

Mr Amaral explained that in order to protect a crop, each seedling would have to be treated. He said once the maggots are in the root, nothing can be done, so farmers would be treating the carrots with substances to repel the fly and it's larvae from the roots.

This would result in significantly higher costs to the consumer, as farmers would have to not only buy the special insecticides, but also use additional labour hours to treat the crops.

It would also result in produce that's been treated with insecticide. Both scenarios are avoided by keeping foreign carrots out.

The downside of this immigration policy for carrots to local residents is that when weather conditions affect local supply, frozen and canned carrots are the only alternatives.

Carrots: Fresh local carrots are available now for Christmas, although not in the quantities that farmers would like, due to a difficult year with drought, high winds and Hurricane Igor all impacting on carrot crops in Bermuda.

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Published December 21, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 21, 2010 at 6:28 am)

The true reason for the ban on importing fresh carrots

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