Restrictions on blueberries

Optimism exists in the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG), as well as among the local producers and exporters of blueberries for the eventual lifting of restrictions on shipments to the United States from some Ñuble communes. At least, this is clear from the statements of the national director of the agency, Angel Sartori, who yesterday in Chillán said that they are waiting for the Health Authority of that country to resolve in the short term a measure in that regard.

As will be remembered, in December of 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture decided to impose restrictions on Chilean exports of fresh blueberries to that country, due to the detection of the Lobesia botrana plague in orchards in the O'Higgins regions and Maule

The measure, which took producers by surprise, generated great concern at the local level, since the US Health Authority it demanded the fumigation with methyl bromide of the fresh product in origin, increasing the costs and making the logistics more complex. And although, after diplomatic and technical negotiations between both countries, the restriction was later relaxed, allowing fumigation at the destination, which in practice meant avoiding the premature deterioration of the product, in any case it remains a subject relevant to exporters.

The impact of this decision has been particularly negative for the Bío Bío Region, where the largest area of ​​blueberries planted in the country is concentrated, and for the Province of Ñuble, whose main fruit export is precisely this berrie.

According to figures from the Committee of Cranberries of Chile, in the country there are 15.600 hectares planted with blueberries, of which 4.455 are in the Bío Bío Region, where Ñuble leads the surface.

Also, according to statistics from Odepa, in 2015 the exports of blueberries from the Region to the United States reached 7.396 tons, worth 39,2 million dollars. The relative importance of this destination is high, since the United States concentrates nearly 70% of shipments of this fruit from the Bío Bío Region.

The good news is that the evaluations made by the SAG in properties of different communes of the Bío Bío Region have not detected the presence of the plague in immature states, reason why the expectation of the organism points out that the Health Authority of EE. UU., Based on the information that has been delivered to you from Chile, resolve to put an end to the requirement of the fumigation of blueberries coming from those communes, several of them from Ñuble.

This will mean that the producers that can be favored will reduce the logistics complexity and costs, while for the organic ones it will mean the reopening of the North American market, because until now, the obligatory fumigation prevented them from certifying their production.

It is a positive development, where the enormous human effort and resources deployed by the SAG must be valued, which had a priority budget to fight the plague in the country, achieving positive results in several regions. However, it is also fair to highlight the collaboration of the private sector in this challenge, which required improving sanitary practices on the premises.

It is expected that in the short term the expectations of the authority will be fulfilled and that the demands for the cranberry shipments will be normalized soon, however, it will be necessary to continue improving the compliance of the sanitary measures in the properties, as well as the SAG surveillance work, so that in the future emergencies such as these can be addressed in such sensitive areas for the economy, where safety has become a relevant factor in the global agri-food market.

Source: The Discussion


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