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Peruvian fruit complicates Argentina's blueberry season

Tucuman's blueberry campaign came to an end with a regular economic balance, in comparison to its initial forecast. Everything was going according to plan when the harvest started and shipments abroad from Tucuman were widespread. However, when Peru's fresh fruit entered the market, things got complicated for the producers from Tucuman.

Things were going quite well up until October 18 or 20, the harvest was strong and quality was good, producers were harvesting fresh fruit, which was then packed and sent to the airport to be shipped to international markets in a timely manner.

Everything was fine, but the emergence of the Peruvian fruit depressed prices and complicated things. Since the market for blueberries isn't very big, it quickly collapsed because of an oversupply and many producers were left with lots of unharvested fruit; things became very hard for Tucuman's blueberry sector.

This was something that had been warned of by producers and some industry leaders, who said Peru could be a threat to the scoop fruit produced in Tucuman, at the beginning of the campaign. Unfortunately, their warnings became a harsh reality. Currently, producers must wait to find out what the final sales numbers are to have a clearer idea of how the activity ended in 2016. 

The province and the industry continue betting on an activity that, despite its commercial ups and downs, still has a lot of momentum and force on this sector's development.

The works carried out by the provincial and national government at the local airport allowed the sector to develop commercial logistics, which let them put the fruit from Tucuman into international markets, such as the US and Europe, at a good price, and on a daily basis; until the Peruvian fruit entered the market.

Despite all this, after many years of efforts in the province, blueberry production is secure. The joint work between the private and public sectors, which took into account much of what had been done with the provincial citrus activity, was one of the pillars to achieve this.

Apratuc was launched 
Producers and investors continue working on the farms and they are hopeful that, with good management, the sector will be consolidated. Tucuman began producing blueberries in early 2000, thanks to the pioneering effort of a producer who later became the first president of Apratuc. 

In 2004, when the activity started to boom and other companies appeared in the region, producers began to come together and look for ways to organize themselves. This partnership aims to meet the needs of the sector, promote the spread of knowledge of the culture, defend the interests of producers, and assist them in the absence of technical and commercial information to encourage them to export. 

The years passed and, despite the serious issues faced by the sector, the private effort paid off.

Undoubtedly, the agricultural and ecological characteristics of certain piedmont areas of Tucuman allowed for the development of the sector, but the invaluable support of the State regarding the research made through the EEAOC and the trade logistics through the IDEP, allowed strengthening this activity more quickly and efficiently.

The cold storage and loading platform at the Benjamin Matienzo International Airport are ready, and the authorities have announced that they would continue working to expand and fix the airports runway. The work on the airport allowed exporters to make daytime shipments of more than 70% of the total 5,400 total tons of cargo (fruit and packaging) dispatched in 78 flights, with full operation of the airport and 10 daily commercial flights at the same time. Achieving a high percentage of daytime flights, led to a decrease in the presence of insects in the load, which allowed exporters to avoid restrictions from the importing markets.

The sector's goal is to continue working together with the state, to continue growing and to find new consumer markets, managing to secure an activity that begins to be very important for Tucuman's economy.

The reality is that Tucuman currently has a cargo terminal, which will allow other agricultural items to be shipped large distances, once producers find new markets that cover production costs and freight costs.

Source: La Gaceta
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