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Improving quality of vegetable exports

During the summer of 2017 detentions of fresh produce at European and US borders spiked because of the presence of thrips, a small, fast-moving insect, found in Dominican exports of Asian vegetables. In the La Vega region of country there are approximately 40 produce packing facilities that export more than 20 different types Asian vegetables. More than 60 metric tons of specialty eggplants a week are exported to the US alone.

Fresh Plaza news portal reports that Dominican exporters were at wits end because they were convinced they were sending clean product after individually pressure washing each vegetable. For the product going to Europe they were also employing a mandatory hot water treatment designed to eliminate thrips. But when the shipments arrived, there were unpleasant surprises.

The cost of exporting produce with thrips is prohibitive. A US government program is helping In the case of US detentions, exporters have the option of paying to have the shipment treated, destroyed, or returned back to them. In the case of Europe treatment is not an option.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded Exporta Calidad Program arranged to have a USDA APHIS team from Miami, Florida visit the La Vega region and train packing house technicians on how to identify thrips in the field before the product comes to the packing house and to separate out product with problems from product that is clean.

In every “clean” shipment ready for export, the USDA APHIS inspectors were able to find at least one thrip or thrip larvae that helped convince exporters for the need to take action themselves to resolve the problem.

The USDA supported program is now in the process of helping packing houses install special pest inspection stations with appropriate lighting and equipment to detect and identify even the smallest pests such as thrips that are particularly adept at hiding on fruits and vegetables with uneven surfaces such as bitter melon and under the stem caps of eggplants.

The USDA APHIS team also recommended greater protection for the container loading area to avoid the entrance of opportunistic insects into the containers, particularly during preferred night time loading times when lights attract insects.

Detentions because of thrips have dropped over the last month. The Exporta Calidad Program is also working jointly with packing houses to help their associated farmers adopt integrated pest management measures to keep thrips levels down on the farm before they become a problem at the packing house.

Source: FreshPlaza

Oct 5, 2017

Category: DR News |

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Last updated November 19, 2017 at 11:32 PM
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