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Ecuador: Fruits and vegetables on their way to the US

The US market is increasingly open to new products from Ecuador, after this South American country started sending fresh fruits and vegetables there last year.

Ecuador has a list of 110 different fresh products. Papaya access was approved in 2013; pitahaya in 2016; and the access for blackberries, raspberries, and peppers in 2017. This year, the US approved the entry of tree tomatoes from Ecuador and it should grant access to avocados within three or four months.

This, according to the Inspection Service of Animal and Plant Health of the United States Department of Agriculture (APHIS), responsible for evaluating and analyzing the risk for the entry of these products.

According to data from Pro Ecuador, the South American country started to export pitahaya to the US in 2017, a year in which exports amounted to $1,387. Between January and April of this year pitahaya shipments already amount to $3,442.

Last year the country's blackberry and raspberry exports totaled $97,000, and in the first four months of this year they amounted to $22,000. Pepper exports in 2017 amounted to $9,000, and between January and April 2018 they stood at $7,000.

Pro Ecuador has no report on papaya exports as, even though they were approved five years ago, it was only until last June when Rilesa, from Santa Elena, sent the first 40-foot container to Miami, Florida. The company has been preparing to make this shipment since 2014, when in planted macaw and Hawaiian papaya trees.

Esteban Espinoza, an agricultural specialist from Aphis, said the access granted to a product was a technical decision that didn't involve trade issues, and was carried out on the requests made by Ecuador. He also said that to consider the entry of a new product, the counterpart of Aphis, which in the case of Ecuador is Agrocalidad, must first make the request to this entity.

After the request, Aphis initiates the scientific technical evaluation of all the pests that could arrive in the shipments and defines mitigation measures.

Regarding the avocado, Espinoza said the Aphis had published at the end of June a proposal of the document that details all the requirements that the product must meet to be exported to the US.

The prerequisites for avocado include sending the fruit under a Systems Approach to prevent the introduction of pests. This means producers must comply with the cleaning of crops, that there are no fallen fruits in the field or overripe fruit, and a cleaning, selection, and quality control process in the packing and export plants.

For other varieties, such as the Guatemalan variety, Aphis has proposed the use of irradiation for exports which would applied in the port of destination by an agreement signed two years ago with Agrocalidad. "The irradiation in a treatment plant cancels any possible presence of flies or insects because these mosquitoes can't reproduce after irradiation," he said. 


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