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Abstract

Movement of agricultural products is one of the primary means of introduction of new diseases and pests. The agricultural inspections that take place at the ports of entry target higher-risk commodities, but inspect only an estimated 1-2% of total shipments. According to the Department of Commerce (U.S. Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics), U.S. agricultural exports increased 26.72% from 2006 to 2007 and imports increased 10.12% over the same period. Imports from the Caribbean alone totaled $451,098,000 in 2007. The economic impact of trade cannot be underestimated, and neither should the possibilities for newly introduced pests. Early detection and accurate diagnosis of diseases and other pests is vital to any eradication efforts. In addition, communication between countries regarding pest detections increases awareness and allows for targeted survey programs. These efforts cannot happen without robust diagnostic capability and communication systems in place. The National Plant Diagnostic Network (NPDN) was developed by the USDA-CSREES in 2002 to quickly detect and accurately diagnose plant pests and initiate communications, and has become the standard for creation of similar systems such as the International Plant Diagnostic Network (IPDN) and the Caribbean Region Diagnostic Network (CRDN). The CRDN represents this effort in the Caribbean basin, tying diagnostic laboratories and personnel together via technical training and the Digital Diagnostic and Identification System (DDIS). Participants in this network utilize a secure online system to log and share diagnostic data in a confidential environment. This coupled with technical training increases the availability of expertise in the region, and helps to establish a baseline of pest knowledge that will support phytosanitary and trade decisions.

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