Six pests threaten Moroccan eggplant exports to US

Ahead of a possible partnership between the US and Morocco, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service APHIS has released a report assessing the risk of pests in Morocco’s eggplant exports.

In 2019, the USDA looked into the presence of harmful, invasive pests from commercially produced eggplants imported from Morocco, determining six species were a risk to the US ecosystem. The Mediterranean fruit fly and five species of moth pose a unique risk to Morocco’s eggplant exports to the US. Out of the 20 insects identified in the report, the APHIS considered these insects to be most harmful as they are not easily identifiable during the harvest.  Moreover, each species lays eggs inside the eggplant which renders the fruit non-consumable.

Moroccan suppliers will take several risk mitigation factors before exporting to the US. Brushing the eggplants and removing the leaves will reduce the chances of infestation.

The report deemed the Mediterranean fruit fly to be “one of the worst fruit pests” as it can travel up to 20 kilometers and damage fruit by “egg-laying, internal larval feeding, and subsequent rotting due to microorganisms.”

At this time, the US imports the majority of its eggplants from Mexico, Honduras, and Canada. Morocco exported most of its eggplants to Mauritania, Spain, and France for a total of 4,010 tons in 2020.

According to¸ US eggplant imports represents 15.5% of the global eggplant trade.

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