Peruvian asparagus, one of the country's main export products, has experienced a slowdown in its international sales due to the new phytosanitary requirements demanded by its destination markets.
According to Carlos Zamorano, executive director of the Peruvian Institute of Asparagus and Vegetables - IPEH, the main markets, the United States and Europe (in that order) had never demanded exporters fumigate their shipments until the appearance of pests activated mandatory fumigation for shipments to the North American market.
The consequences of this change in the landscape have been remarkable. In fact, Peru lost the primacy in asparagus exports to the United States (a place now occupied by Mexico) and, consequently, worldwide. In addition, Peruvian exporters must now deal with the huge costs of the fumigation process, which has cost the asparagus industry 84 million dollars since the measure was established.
Furthermore, exporters much cut the cold chain in order to fumigate, which reduces the product's useful life by 30%. Finally, the possibility of making presentations with added value is limited by the fact that the product must be sent in five-kilo open boxes to be fumigated. In short, this set of conditions put Peru at a great disadvantage against Mexico, a country that does not require fumigation.
Moment of change
However, a turning point could have been reached on November 2, when Directorial Resolution No. 0002-2019-Minagri-Senasa-DSV, which establishes the sanitary and phytosanitary requirements for exporting fresh asparagus to the United States and the countries of the European Community, entered into force. The key points required by this resolution are the certification of the production places, the certification of the primary processing facilities (packers), phytosanitary certification of shipments, and the certification of the analysis of pesticide and heavy metal residues.
9,000 of the nearly 26,000 hectares devoted to this production in the country have already been certified thanks to a campaign led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. These measures will guarantee the receiving markets that the product they receive has a low prevalence of pests and poses very low risks.
The idea, Zamorano said, is that these new conditions will allow negotiating with the US the elimination of the fumigation in the first three or four months of next year. Achieving that objective would have a huge positive impact that would be reflected in all the markets to which the Peruvian vegetable is directed, in addition to helping organize the data on asparagus cultivation in the country.
The IPEH spokesperson estimates that this year asparagus exports will remain at a level of 500 million dollars.