Costa Rica: Avocado importers deny the presence of sunspot

Avocado importers deny the alleged presence in Costa Rica of the sunspot disease, as two samples in laboratory tests paid by them tested positive.

If this were to be confirmed it would have a big impact because Costa Rica closed the issuance of import licenses from Mexico and eight other markets, May 5, 2015, claiming that it was free from this pest.

Since then, the country has had to import avocados from other countries, such as Peru.

Randall Benavides, president of the National Chamber of Exporters and Importers of perishable products, filed papers that stated that two leaf samples analysed at a laboratory in Mexico had tested positive.

The samples were sent to Mexico independently by pathologist and technician Miguel Gomez Obregon, says the researcher.

According to the documents submitted by Obregon and Benavides, the supposedly positive material comes from the area of Los Santos. 

Francisco Dall'Anese, director of the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE), said that he received the alert last week and immediately activated the protocol and sent 75 technicians to check all the estates of Los Santos. The inspection will be extended throughout the country and will end in two weeks.

Suspicions
Obregon said that, according to reports he received from producers, they have suspected since 1976 that the sunspot is present in Costa Rica.

He never delved into research, particularly for economic reasons. Now, after contacting his Mexican counterpart Daniel Teliz, a specialist on fruit diseases, he decided to send the samples to the specialist's laboratory.

According to Obregon, his goal was purely scientific and not political. The ban on Mexican avocado caused Mexico to raise the issue, as a commercial concern, to the Committee on Agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Dall'Anese said he respected Obregon's concerns but that the report received at the SFE was lacking certain things.

One of them, he warned, is the specific detail of the farms where the samples that allegedly tested positive were obtained. Another is the sample's travel document, which should include the permission that the SFE must grant, by law, to take samples and send them abroad.

However, he said, the SFE has to take any allegations of quarantine pests very seriously, as the country is free of them and they can have economic importance.

Dall'Anese said he wouldn't comment about the technical aspects until they had received the official results. The samples were collected and analysed in SFE laboratories and some could be sent to Korea and the United States.

The Minister of Foreign Trade, Alexander Mora, reported that technical teams of Mexico and Costa Rica are planning a meeting on December 12 to explore solutions to the ban.



Source: entornointeligente.com / With information from La Nacion

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