Chile bolsters fruit fly controls ahead of Pope's visit

More News Top Stories
Chile bolsters fruit fly controls ahead of Pope's visit

Authorities expect an influx of tourists for the event next week and are responding to keep border crossings safe from unwanted fruit and vegetables.

Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) representatives met with Agriculture Minister Carlos Furche earlier this week to understand what measures were in place to prevent an unholy outbreak of fruit fly when Pope Francis visits from Jan. 15-18.

The Catholic Church is set to undertake a series of activities in Iquique, Santiago and Temuco as part of the visit, so routes to these locations are under particular scrutiny from Chile's Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG).

"The Ministry of the Interior has been coordinating this for several months, involving all the services that have to do with entry into our country," Furche said in a release.

"Among these services SAG is naturally there and for the Ministry of Agriculture our task has been supporting the strengthening of border controls in points that have been identified for a greater flower of people in the coming days and weeks," he said.

Furche said SAG had doubled the number of border control personnel, increased the number of X-Ray machines and boosted the Canine Brigade for inspecting luggage and passengers. 

In parallel, control mechanisms have also been strengthened in case the greater number of tourists happens to lead to a phytosanitary problem. This includes more traps, particularly for fruit flies.

Chile and New Zealand are the only countries with fruit fly-free status in the Southern Hemisphere.

However, Chile's status was put under threat recently with the appearance of Mediterranean fruit fly in a Santiago suburb.

In the release, Bown congratulated SAG for its professionalism in detecting two instances of fruit fly last year - the recent sighting in Las Condes, Santiago and an earlier on in San Bernardo in April with eradication efforts that proved successful as the quarantine was lifted on Dec. 27.

Subscribe to our newsletter