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Mexico: Japan authorizes the entry of grapefruit from Campeche and Yucatan

The news comes as a relief for local farmers, who are amidst a crisis in the sector because of the presence of the yellow dragon and the corruption in Juguera de Akil, the region's main supply centre, as it will bring more income before the end of 2014. 

The grapefruit authorized by the Japanese Government is produced in the Oxa, Campeche, San Francisco, and Yucatan orchards under the systems approach; a pest risk management system that guarantees the product can be exported. 

This year, citrus production in Yucatan reached over 400,000 tons, mainly to supply the Juguera de Akil and to market in other states, such as the hotel sector in Quintana Roo. 

Marco Vela Reyes, leader of the League of Agrarian Communities and Peasant Unions, a subsidiary of CNC in Yucatan, said the Juguera paid 1.200 pesos per ton, but that they only processed between 15,000 and 20,000 tons of citrus per year (sweet oranges, grapefruit and tangerines to make juice concentrate that will are exported to Europe and sold in some parts of Mexico). 

Therefore, opening markets, such as the Japanese one, gives producers who haven't been able to find a destination for their citrus, even after beating the Yellow Dragon virus or Huang Long Bing (HLB), a break. 

Yucatan's grapefruit Yucatan now has the possibility of entering an export market of at least 44,000 tons per year. 

This possibility was achieved due to the correct application of plant and animal health measures including the release of insects used as biological control agents against the HLB pest affecting citrus plants. 

The National Health, Food Safety and Quality Service (Senasica) confirmed that the country had produced four million Tamarixia radiata insects this year, 80% of which are to be used in the states of Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche Tabasco, Chiapas and Oaxaca. 

The South-eastern Regional Laboratory of Mass Production of Tamarixia Radiata is located in Merida, Yucatan, where production began in 2010. 

The new exports to Japan will allow grapefruit producers, which used to be the most important Mexican exporters of red grapefruit to Europe in 2005, to begin their economic recovery. 

In those years, producers exported 325,000 boxes of citrus from Yucatan, as they had a great demand in France, England, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and Italy. Grapefruit exports during that decade averaged 5,200 tons annually. 

Before the presence of the HBL, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia had applied for grapefruit exports. 

In the Southern Cone, PROAGRO promotes the cultivation of grapefruit in 200 acres. The company expects production will increase this year due to the natural growth of trees. 

According to the protocol established with Japan by Senasica, the orchards in Veracruz, Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, and Michoacan that meet requirements are also candidates for exporting in this mode of production. 

The export is based on the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures No. 14 "Application of integrated measures in a systems approach for pest risk management." 

The Standard is part of the International Plant Protection Convention of the Food and Agriculture Organization, of which Mexico and Japan are members. 

The systems approach also implies that the grapefruit is produced in areas with negative results for the fruit fly plague and carrying out other field activities, such as chemical control. 

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