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Puerto Rico: Concern about Manati's pineapple health

The executive director of Atenas Pineapple, the Puerto Rican company specializing in the cultivation of pineapples, said the island had enough pineapple seeds and that it was unnecessary to import seeds that could have diseases from abroad.

José Roberto Figueroa, the director of the company that is based in Manati, urged the Department of Agriculture to end the import of Costa Rican seeds, as they know they might have diseases that could wipe out Puerto Rico's pineapple production.

"We have enough seed to have a moderate pineapple production on the island. For more than a year, Atenas Pineapple has been growing pineapples with the seeds that are generated on the same farm. This is a call to protect the local market," said Figueroa.

The businessman said the pineapple had gained space in the local market and there were between 20 and 30 farmers that specialized in the fruit in Puerto Rico.

"The pineapple producers in the island are facing a very complicated situation because of the competition they have from imported pineapple. If our pineapple crops get sick, they could easily disappear and the farmers that depend on it would have nothing to live from," Figueroa said.

"We're asking the Department of Agriculture to desist from continuing to import seed from Costa Rica and from the countries around it," he added.
The businessman said that local farmers could double the amount of seed following the completion of each crop cycle and that the local market could continue to grow without the need for foreign seed through the use of good agricultural practices. 

"We have stabilized the pineapple projects on the island. The risk is not worth it and, while it is true that Puerto Ricans can always continue consuming pineapples from abroad, nothing compares with the pineapples we produce here, which can be found in the supermarket a day after being harvested. Meanwhile, the pineapple from abroad reaches the country three weeks after it was harvested,"said Figueroa.

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