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Mexico facilitates the entry of Argentine lemons
Even though the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the United States Department of Agriculture stated that they would allow the entry of Argentine lemons into their territory, as long as they had a phytosanitary certificate to prevent the reproduction of the Mediterranean fly (ceratitis capitata); Mexico's National Health, Food Safety and Quality Service (SENASA) does not stipulate this condition for the import of Argentine lemons to the country.
According to Senasica, Mexico will import the Citrus lemon variety, also known as real lemon or Italian lemon, from the provinces of Tucuman and Jujuy. The fruit, the Mexican safety service stated, "is a fresh product for human consumption (...) the phytosanitary certificate must specify that it is free of Ceroplastes rusci, ecdytolopha aurantiana, Pseudococcus viburni, and Xanthomonas citri pv. citri."
According to the National Program for Control and Eradication of fruit fly (PROCEM) in Argentina and the National Health Service and Food Quality (Senasa) of that country, up until October 2016, there were 457 hectares free of the Mediterranean fruit fly in the regions that produce Italian lemon; 306,300 hectares have a low prevalence of the pest, and 309,800 hectares are under control.
Argentina's Northwest area (NOA), which is made up of the provinces of Jujuy, Salta, Tucuman, Catamarca, La Rioja and Santiago del Estero, generates almost all the national production of Italian lemon. The Agricultural Zoology Section, through the Citrus Experimental Program Agroindustrial Obispo Colombres (EEAOC) station, recommended to the producers in the area to conduct monitoring and control the Mediterranean fruit fly with chemicals.
Meanwhile, Sagarpa said that "the presence of the Mediterranean fruit fly in Mexico would stop them from exporting more than 250 varieties."
Gonzalo German Migliolo, head of the Ministry of Rural Development in Tamaulipas, said he was most concerned about the health and safety conditions of the Italian lemon that would be imported from Argentina. German Migliolo said Argentina was affected by the Medfly, a pest that attacks ripe fruit and lays its eggs in them.
"We need Senasica to verify the origin of the products, Mexican technicians should go to Argentina and locate the areas that are free of this pest and from where we can import Italian lemons. The only recommendation we can make to Senasica is that, if they are going to allow the importation of a product to Mexico, it must comply with all the health and safety requirements."
Tamaulipas is the national leader in the production of Italian lemon, as it produces 100 thousand tons per year. 80% of its production is exported to the United States and the rest is sold at the national level.
Sagarpa is responsible for the Mediterranean Fly Program, and in September 2016 it invested more than 700 million pesos to construct a new plant to increase crop protection in Mexico.
The new Medfly plant is expected to be operational in the second half of 2017, probably after the arrival of the Argentinian lemons, as Senasica has stated that "Argentina will be able to export its lemon, once the phytosanitary requirements for import have been established."
Publication date: 3/20/2017
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