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Argentina: Record blueberry exports thanks to investment in Tucuman's Airport

"We've achieved a historical blueberry export record, thanks to the work carried out by Nation at the airport of Tucuman," the Ministry of Transport stated today.

"Tucuman exported a total of 5,411 tons of blueberries this season. This amount surpassed the historical record achieved in 2014, which stood at 4,300 tons, and is 60% higher than what was exported in 2015. The increase in exports was due to the work carried out by the Ministry of Transport of the Nation and the logistical coordination of all actors involved," the official information stated.

"Producers had been asking for this work for 9 years and they always dreamed of exporting more than 5,000 tons. In 6 months we were able to diagnose the problem and coordinate actions, not only to start and end the first big work of the Belgrano Plan on time, but also to join efforts to improve logistics," said Minister Guillermo Dietrich.

"The result is that we achieved the best numbers in the history of Tucuman's blueberry exports. This is what our country needs: infrastructure and people working together, finding new ways of doing things, improving the things that are done wrong, getting better every day to increase our capacities and to generate more opportunities for our regional economies, which in turn will increase our productivity, jobs, and allow us to place more products in the world," the Minister said.

On May 23, producers, provincial authorities, national agencies, airlines, and the logistics and cargo companies at the airport terminal started to hold a series of meetings regarding the investment that the Nation was going to excecute to expand the export capacity of the airport of Tucuman.

"Six months after their first meeting, this group met again to analyze the results of the campaign, which achieved record levels in cargo volumes and flight numbers," the ministry said.

The new 7,790 square meter export platform required an investment of $93 million.

This new infrastructure allows for the 24-hour unrestricted operation of 78 flights simultaneously with commercial and health flights.

70% of the more than 5,000 tons exported was shipped during the day, something that couldn't be done with the old platform.

The works included improving the streets linking the platform with the loading sector where the fruit is stored. Additionally, Intercargo, a state enterprise, got more and better equipment for the operation.

Overall, this operational capacity decreased the loading and downloading times from 3 hours to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Additionally, the authorities conducted an action plan to minimize the possibility of insects accessing the load.

These measures were coordinated by Customs, SENASA, and the United States Animal and Plant Health Inspection service (APHI/USDA), as the country received 80% of the cargo exported from Tucuman.

The other 20% was directed to Europe. London received the first air cargo with blueberries from Tucuman.

The Ministry expects to have an installed capacity to export 8,000 tons, if there are 4 daily flights every month.

"It's an ambitious goal but here we are again, looking for opportunities for improvement. Every sector has a different perspective and areas that needed to improve. We all have the same goals, helping Argentina to grow and demonstrating it can be done," Dietrich said.
Next year the authorities will invest another $1,300 million in the General Benjamin Matienzo Lieutenant airport to rebuild its runway, which will increase safety in air operations. Authorities also plan to renovate the passenger terminal and the parking area to improve the passengers' experience.

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