Around 50 different plant materials from different species have been illegally brought into the country by a seasonal worker from Australia, during the COVID-19 repatriation.
The plant materials have been confiscated by Biosecurity Vanuatu Officers in the seasonal workers’ luggage, during the COVID-19 repatriation operation.
Bill Garae, the Assistant Plant Health Pathology Officer at the Vanuatu Biosecurity, says they have also found seven different agricultural pest and diseases in the plant materials that have been brought in.
The Assistant Plant Health Pathology Officer, says the investigation carried out during the operation has found that, the plant materials were taken directly from the farm that the seasonal worker has been working in.
Mr Garae says the plant species are not allowed to come into the country. According to studies carried out on these plant species, they have found that these species are harmful to the country’s agriculture sector.
He says the materials have been well packed and hidden in the worker’s suitcase amongst clothes and inside socks.
“They have covered it well with some tissues and put them inside socks and mix them up with clothes so no one can spot them out,” he said.
Mr Garae says “there are also weed seeds that were found, this is also dangerous to Vanuatu because we do not want any more weed coming into the country, especially invasive weed species.”
Mr Garae says they have destroyed all the plant materials last Friday and the person responsible will be issued a heavy penalty under the Plant Protection Act.