Argentina Poised for Growth in Export Markets
Apple and pear production areas in Patagonia, Argentina.
Argentina is poised to expand its export markets for apples, pears and other fruit from the agricultural fields of Patagonia, citing the IAEA and UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for helping the country achieve the goal.
In December 2005, US Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) officially recognized Argentina´s Patagonia region as a fruit fly free area. The achievement culminates ten years of IAEA and FAO technical backstopping to Argentina in terms of implementing the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) as part of an area-wide integrated pest management approach.
The achievement allows Patagonia to export fresh fruits and vegetables to the USA without any quarantine treatments, a step that Argentina´s Servicio Nacional de Sanidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria (SENASA) calculates to mean annual savings of US $2 million. The elimination of these costly quarantine treatments applies to most of the 3 million boxes of quality pears and apples that this region also exports to many other regions in the world. Furthermore it also opens the possibilities of exporting other fresh fruit crops, particularly stone fruits such as cherries, whose cultivation is rapidly expanding.
National and provincial authorities acknowledge the significant role of the FAO and IAEA Joint Programme and the SIT in achieving the goal, which follows establishment of similar free zones with the Agency´s support in Argentina´s Mendoza province. The Ministry of Agriculture now has announced its approval to fund the initiation of a new fruit fly management programme. It involves integrated SIT implementation over an area of 56,000 hectares comprising the main citrus producing provinces of Argentina (Entre Ríos and Corrientes) in the northeast of the country.
The presence of certain fruit flies in a country can pose a significant barrier to trade in fresh fruits and vegetables. SIT has been used in many parts of the world against insect pests, such as the Mediterranean Fruit Fly in Chile, Mexico and California, and the New World Screw Worm in Libya and Central America. The technique is a form of biological pest control - it involves mass breeding huge quantities of target insects in a factory and sterilizing the males by exposing them to low doses of radiation. These sterile male flies are released by air over infested areas, where they mate with wild females that then produce no offspring, leading to suppression and a gradual elimination of the pest.
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