Chilean growers take govt to court over Peruvian avocado entry

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Chilean growers take govt to court over Peruvian avocado entry

Chilean avocado growers have launched a protection lawsuit in the country's Court of Appeals to prevent the unrestricted entry of Peruvian avocados, claiming such imports pose a serious risk of infecting orchards with avocado sunblotch viroid (ASBV).avocado close-up

Growers' concerns have been brewing for several months since a technical agreement for the fruit's import was reached between the Chilean Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) and its Peruvian counterpart SENASA.

Chilean Avocado Committee president Gonzalo Bulnes told the legal measure aims to ensure Peruvian avocados come from orchards certified as free of the viroid.

"What we have been asking for is a very simple thing, that Peru has accepted with other countries - Panama and Costa Rica - and that's that it [the fruit] comes from orchards that are certified as sunblotch-free. Nothing more than that," Bulnes said.

"To supply Chile well, Peru needs to certify 400 hectares, no more. Peruvian growers and nurseries make propaganda in Peru about selling avocados that are free of sunblotch, or in other words, that there are orchards in Peru that are free of sunblotch. We are not asking for anything else."

He added it was worrying that SAG's pest risk analysis was "hardly rigorous, mistaken and lacked background".

"The pest risk analysis from SAG is absolutely flawed - that's how national experts, foreign experts, and the agronomy faculty at the Universidad de Chile have estimated it, recommending it be redone as it has serious omissions."

The industry leader said it was evident that Chilean authorities had given in to pressure from Peru.

"It should be emphasized that the risk is very real. For us it's close to 100%. Today the risk doesn't just affect avocado, but also other species like potatoes and tomatoes.

While the committee is taking measures to avoid the fruit's entry without restrictions, Bulnes made it very clear that it suited the industry to have ASBV-free avocados in the market during the period when Chile was not growing the fruit.

It helps us because the buyer doesn't change the product and there is continuity.

"We have already had the experience of the U.S. At the start, the Californians were terrified that we would arrive with avocados, but today they recognize that having avocados during the whole year has made the market grow in an incredible way. We are convinced that the same will heppen here. That's why yes, it interests us that avocados enter, but avocados of good quality.

The committee president expected a resolution to the case before the season of Peruvian avocado entry, highlighting the northern neighbor started harvests in late April.

"We have confidence in Chilean tribunals. We believe that what we are asking for, technically and legally, is too clear and that international treaties and Chilean laws protect us."


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