Chile is reportedly anticipating that U.S. authorities will lift their requirement that blueberries be fumigated by the next season and instead allow the fruit to be exported under a systems approach protocol.
The end of restrictions on the entry of blueberries to the United States has been announced for years, but the Agriculture and Livestock Service (SAG) and producers are confident that after five years the change will soon be realized, according to local media La Discusion [in Spanish].
The article reported that fumigation has affected the fruit's competitiveness and quality, especially for organic producers who have been unable to market their berries as such due to this measure.
The national director of SAG, Horacio Borquez, who met in Chillan on Thursday with the president of Fedefruta, Jorge Valenzuela, and with leaders of the Ñuble Farmers' Association, led by Alvaro Gatica, announced that the systems approach should be implemented within the current year.
"A system approach procedure, which is now ready, was agreed upon with the United States Department of Agriculture. The next step corresponds to the North American normative process," he was quoted as saying.
In December 2013, the U.S. authority required that all shipments of blueberries from the regions of O'Higgins, Maule and Bio Bio (including Ñuble) that arrived in North American ports be fumigated with methyl bromide, after detecting the presence of pests.
From that moment the SAG implemented a pest control strategy and the Ministry of Agriculture authorities have held numerous bilateral diplomatic and technical meetings, as well as field inspections, in a bid to lift the restrictions.
"We are waiting for news, our technical teams went to the United States less than a month ago and we are waiting for the answer of the analysis that the Americans are performing; I think the systems approach will be working next season for sure," Borquez was quotas as saying.
He said the mechanism involved registering the orchards that can demonstrate that they do not have Lobesia so that they don't have to fumigate their products. The director of the SAG highlighted the impact this will have on organic producers, who had been unable to market their product as organic due to these restrictions and will now be able to do so again.
Alvaro Gatica said he was confident that the restrictions would be lifted this year. Unlike the previous announcements, he said, this formula is better and it's very advanced.
"We feel much more secure, although this does not depend on us or the SAG, but on the United States, and I understand that they are quite advanced with the systems approach, so next season we shouldn't have to spray our products," he was quoted as saying.