Sanitary requirements make exporting fruit from Peru a costly process


“The first obstacle a fresh products exporter may encounter is that there is no phytosanitary protocol between the National Service of Agrarian Health (SENASA) and its counterpart in another country,” says Solano, who is coordinator of the Quality Department of Exports.

This is an agreement that takes effect when the health authorities of an importing country check whether a fresh product that comes from another place can enter the country by showing that it doesn’t carry a harmful pest and that the allowed amount of fertilizer has been used in the crops.

Patricia Franco, commercial manager at consultancy Food Solutions, explains that even though producers can prove that their fresh fruits do not carry the plague, these can not be exported until proven to the importing country (free of the pest) than in the growing areas these pathogens have been eradicated or that treatment plants that are able to eliminate them have been implemented.

But, as with many procedures, the development of a phytosanitary protocol can take one or more years, because previously the market authorities that are interested in buying Peruvian fruit have to make a risk analysis in our fields and all the scientific research of the case. That happened with the Hass avocado producers in the Peruvian coast who after a long process of inspection by the USA Department of Agriculture, can only today sell to that country. “It took over ten years to enter, after demonstrating by industrial processes that the Peruvian hass avocado is not carrying pests,” says Eric Farah, vice president of the Fruit and Vegetable Committee of Adex.

Despite the restrictions on entry to the United States, in recent years Peru has remained among the top ten exporters of avocados in the world, with a significant presence in the European Union. But today our country is expected to submit an annual average of 19,000 tons of fresh avocado to the USA.

Speeding up the process
Ruth Angeles, assistant director in charge of quarantine I Senasa, indicates that in this organization there are infinite cases of requirements for producers who have waited months or years to begin exporting fresh inputs to the United States, the European Union and Asia. “It’s not that managers of Senasa do not want to accelerate the paperwork, but the response of the interested market may take a long time and it depends on the health authority of another country to give priority to the issue,” she explains.

In this regard, Solano said that because of this problem many companies that grow the same food combine to show Senasa that together they constitute a considerable volume of export. “If it is about a representative quantity, Senasa prioritizes the development of a phytosanitary protocol for the interested producers.”

However, the lack of funds may prevent the health authority to carry out the respective tests to demonstrate to the importing country that a certain fruit can enter their territory without causing problems. “That is why many times the private sector finances the tests that are needed to develop a protocol,” said Eduardo Talavera, commercial manager of Agriconsult Peru.

That allowed members of the Peruvian Association of Mango Producers and Exporters (APEM) to sell to Mexico, China and Japan today. As is known, the Peruvian mango is likely to carry the fruit fly, the major pest that attacks our fields. “We had to show our customers that our mangoes undergo a hydrothermal process that kills the larvae in the fruit,” says Juan Carlos Rivera, manager of APEM.

Clearly, requirements and wait times to reach agreements with these countries were not equal in all cases. “If it took a year to enter Mexico and cost $10,000, for Japan it took five years and an investment of $100,000, as in this case more infrastructure and equipment to verify scientifically the effectiveness of our hydrothermal treatment were required,” explains Rivera.