Chile debates sunblotch risk from Peruvian avocados

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Chile debates sunblotch risk from Peruvian avocados

The problem with Peruvian avocado is not the fruit itself; it is the fear of importing sunblotch, said Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee. avocado_69622720

In an interview with, Ochagavía explained that what concerns the Chilean industry is the possible entry of this viroid. The infectious plant agent is not currently present in Chile and has not been considered by the Agriculture and Livestock Services (SAG) in its evaluation of the possible Peruvian import.

"I would say that this is one of the only countries in the world without sunblotch. Others that don't have it are New Zealand and parts of Australia," he said.

Ochagavía said that the industry is in talks with SAG to give greater background on the viriod and to include it in phytosanitary protocol.

"This is the main point. Sunblotch can be dispersed in our industry and cause significant damage. An affected tree has 30% to 50% less production," he said.

From SAG's perspective, the risk of dissemination is lower than 2% for commercial plantations but Ochagavía said the industry has a different opinion.

"I think when two entities - in this case the avocado industry and SAG - have distinct perspectives, the best thing is that they get together and arrive to a consensus," Ochagavía said.

"The risk assessment that they envision is different than ours. We have different opinions but we have already agreed to come together and discuss the topic."

Ochagavía added that the committee is also in contact with industries in other countries that are helping provide more information.

"If they have sunblotch free orchards, let them bring all of their avocado to Chile. We are pro-business. We've done the same thing as the U.S., whose market grew thanks to the entrance of Mexico, Chile and Peru," he said.

The entrance of Peruvian avocado into Chile would complement the local supply. In Ochagavía's word, "this is good for local development."

"We are convinced that a greater offer from other sources will make the market grow. We have experienced that as active participants in the U.S. So it's unlikely that we would try to put up barriers for avocados when in the end, more fruit will mean Chileans eat 7 kilos instead of 5 and a half," he said.

Currently Chile imports fruit from Peru, which it subjects to a fruit fly quarantine system. Last year 700 MT came in, 45% of which stayed in the northern part of the country.


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