Chile closes in on workable Indian access for blueberries, avocados
Chile's agricultural attaché for India is in talks with the country's phytosanitary authorities to improve trade protocols for blueberries and avocados, despite some logistical difficulties with long travel times.
Speaking to www.freshfruitportal.com from his New Delhi office, former agronomist and current Embassy attaché, Jaime Gonzalez, explains how Chile is focusing on three categories for India; walnuts, blueberries and avocados.
In spite of an average 60-day shipping timeline, and the products' sensitivities to traveling long distances, Gonzalez says hard work continues behind the scenes to make this a viable reality for Chilean exporters.
Currently India requires methyl bromide treatment on the fruit, but this is something under review as part of the negotiations, with alternatives being proposed to help support a large-scale solution.
"All of these three products are priorities for us and we are currently negotiating market access for all of them," Gonzalez says.
"Even though we technically already have market access open, it’s under certain conditions that we don’t really want so we are negotiating the possibility of using alternatives. This is in the case of walnuts.
"With blueberries and avocados, we are negotiating market access because the requirements proposed by India were again a certain kind of treatment, and we believe these fruits may be too sensitive for a long trip and the shelf life would definitely suffer a lot, so that is why we are negotiating an alternative."
The largest Chilean fruit exports to India are apples, but with strong competition from other producer countries such as China and the U.S. state of Washington, Chile is looking to diversify its export crops in the giant market.
"Of course it’s really important to have India as a market but we’re aware that we do face some difficulties because of the distance and the time it takes to travel, so I wouldn’t expect a huge market share at first.
"I don’t believe there will be exporters who want to risk transporting large volumes, and not being able to sell because the window for selling wouldn’t be very long because of the distance and traveling time.
“Having said that, in spite of the difficulties and the distance, we are still very interested in gaining market access because it’s important for Chile to reach India even though this involves challenges."
Negotiations with phytosanitary authorities in India will continue into 2016.
"We are negotiating based on the actual phytosanitary risk so we took into account all of the pests, and are evaluating particularly pest by pest and are entering conversations with the phytosanitary authorities here in India to try to figure out technically sound alternatives to deal with those risks."
Currently there is no direct vessel from Chile to India, hence the 60-day transit time, and cargos would have to go through various unloading and reloading processes before reaching South Asia.
"In the beginning we will be dealing with smaller quantities, but if it’s successful then we do expect growth in the future.
"Transportation on the water can get quite complicated. There is, of course, an alternative with air freight but this is much more expensive.
"For now we are concentrating on these three categories, but in the future other products might be brought in."