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Costa Rica: Senasa reestablishes pineapple planting in the northern area

The National Animal Health Service (Senasa) will reestablish pineapple cultivation in several villages in the northern part of the country today, October 26, after a 90-day moratorium that was imposed due to the strong increase in the population of the stable fly pest, which develops in crop residues, including those of that fruit, and which attacks the livestock.

The Pital Cattlemen's Commission publicly complained against this action because, according to them, pineapple producers did not respect the orders of Senasa and, in general, of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG), and the population of flies did not diminish.

This organization represents agricultural producers affected by the planting and large scale production of pineapples.

The stable fly is an insect that feeds on the blood of animals. That's why it attacks livestock and causes performance issues, both in milk and in meat.

The Senasa issued two prohibitions by means of decrees stating that producers couldn't cut down pineapple plants, in both cases by 90 days. This prohibitions prevented them from re-planting or planting new plants in the farms in the affected areas.

The first prohibition was published within La Gaceta on June 1 and it affected the Cutris District of the Canton of San Carlos de Alajuela and the town of San Rafael de Rio Cuarto de Alajuela and its validity has already expired.

The second decree was also published in La Gaceta on July 24 of this year and it will be valid until October 24, according to Senasa. This decree affected the district of Pital del Canton de San Carlos de Alajuela, which includes, among others, the towns of Los Angeles, Boca Sahino, Boca Tapada, Boca Tres Amigos, Cabra, Canacas, Caño Chu, Cerro Blanco (San Marcos), Cuatro Esquinas, Chaparron, Chirivico (Coopeisabel), Encanto, Fama (Carmen), Flor, I Greiga, Josefina, Legua, Ojoche, Ojochito, Palmar, Piedra Alegre, Puerto Escondido, Quebrada Grande, Sahino, San Luis, Santa Elena, Tigre, Trinchera, Vegas, Veracruz, Vuelta Bolson (part), Vuelta Tablon, and Yucatan.

The purpose of these prohibitions was to prevent the stubble or plant residue, especially the fruit crown and leaves, from remaining in the fields and becoming a host for the development of the fly.

However, that ban caused delays in the crop cycle of that fruit and will generate estimated losses of 9.5 million 12 kg boxes for the 2018 harvest, which implies about $52 million, stated Abel Chaves, president of the National Chamber of Producers and Exporters of Pineapple (Canapep), when the second prohibition was established.

In addition, this chamber calculates that in 2019 there will be a reduction in the production of 4.5 million boxes of 12 kilos, with a value of $25 million. 

An on-going problem
Pineapple growers, especially large ones, did not comply with the orders of the MAG and, therefore, the population of the fly remains very high, stated Alvaro Alvarez, the president of Pital's Cattlemen Commission.

The leader said that the pineapple producers didn't respect the MAG nor the Senasa (an entity belonging to the MAG) and that they were analyzing if they should sue the State for breach of its work.

Meanwhile the director of Senasa, Bernardo Jaen, said that the pineapple producers generally complied with the recommendations, that the number of flies had been reduced to manageable levels and that, therefore, there were no valid reasons to extend the prohibitions.

Jaen said he understood the frustration of cattlemen, as they had been fighting this problem for more than 20 years, but stressed that this government was the first one to temporarily ban demolitions on plantations and that their decision not to extend it was based on technical reports by Senasa staff who had visited the affected areas and farms.

The head of Senasa also said this would continue to be a recurring problem that would require permanent vigilance, as it was impossible to completely eradicate the stable fly.


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