August 25, 2021 at 07:40 pm
Othel V. Campos
The Department of Agriculture said Wednesday Philippine pineapples and mangoes will gain more access to the US through additional ports of entry following the resolution of pending issues between the two countries.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar said in a virtual meeting in the second week of August the Bureau of Plant Industry and the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service agreed to resolve several pending issues that would be beneficial to both sides.
“Expanding the export market of Philippine pineapples and mangoes in the US and other countries will not only enhance our national economy, but more importantly, provide increased incomes to thousands of farmers and their families in pineapple- and mango-producing provinces nationwide,” said Dar.
He said with the agreement between APHIS and BPI, the Philippines could dramatically increase exports of pineapples and resume shipments of mangoes to the US through additional ports of entry by the end of 2021.
Among the issues discussed was the alleged attraction of Philippine pineapple variety “Smooth Cayenne” to the oriental fruit fly, which BPI director George Culaste assured was not true. The USDA-APHIS accepted the evidence from BPI.
APHIS is the main US agency responsible for protecting animal health, animal welfare and plant health. It is also the lead agency for collaboration with other agencies to protect US agriculture from invasive pests and diseases.
The BPI is expected to adopt the risk mitigation measures for oriental fruit fly and APHIS will subsequently publish the initial notice in the Federal Register for a 60-day stakeholder comment period, review any comments, and then publish the final notice that allows the expanded market access for Philippine pineapples into the US, except Hawaii.
The USDA-APHIS also agreed to a draft an operational work plan for irradiation of Philippine fresh mangoes upon arrival in the US. The BPI will provide APHIS official comments on the OWP.
Another development that is expected to make agricultural exports to the US much easier is the country’s inclusion in the “ePhyto Hub” which is organized by the International Plant Protection Convention.
The “ePhyto” certification, being pushed by the US, will replace official documents issued by governments with electronic forms to confirm that shipments of plants and plant products traded internationally are free of pests and diseases, and are therefore safe to import.
The BPI and APHIS panels also discussed the latter’s request for market access of US fresh pomegranate exports to the Philippines.
The BPI already narrowed the pest list scope for pomegranate to top state producers like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The US request is still on the initial pest risk analysis stage that would take three to six months to complete the risk assessment part.
Philippine fresh pineapples reach the US through Guam, Commonwealth of Marianas Island, and North Atlantic regions. From 2013 to July 15, 2021, pineapple exports amounted to 346,190 kilograms.
The country previously exported 386,099 kilograms of fresh mangoes to the US from 2005 to 2008 from the province of Guimaras.