In Florida, officials have quarantined 85 square miles of farmland to combat a destructive pest

In Florida, officials have quarantined 85 square miles of farmland to combat a destructive pest

Federal and state officials have quarantined 85 square miles of farmland in Florida to combat a destructive pest: The Oriental Fruit Fly. The fly has attacked on hundreds of varieties of fruits and vegetables.

The invasive insect was detected for the first time near Miami some weeks ago. Authorities have since then restricted the transportation of most fruits and vegetables from one of the nation's most productive agricultural areas called the Redland, a part of Miami-Dade County known for its pockets of red clay.

Growers there produce everything from tomatoes to papayas due to its tropical climate and year-round growing season. But, things are shockingly quiet at J and C Tropicals, a grower and distributor in the heart of the Redland. Salvador Fernandez, operations manager, has walked into one of his six cavernous coolers. But due to the quarantine, it's empty.

He said, "It's usually full especially at this time of year, because we do truckloads of mamey and avocado and passion fruit and dragon fruit".

In recent years, sales of tropical fruit have been growing due to availability of new varieties for consumers. For example, Dragon fruit belongs to Asia, Mamey, at times called mamey sapote, is from Central America.

Agriculture officials stopped the production in most of the parts of the Redland farming area two weeks ago, when they detected the Oriental Fruit Fly. They imposed the quarantine just as growers were starting to harvest tropical fruit crops. Fernandez doesn't have any idea about how much it all would cost.

He said that as per their estimations they have just mamey, around 500,000 pounds left on the trees. Other tropical fruits such as sapodilla, guavas and passion fruit have also been affected.