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Costa Rica pineapple sector battles with pests, organic certifications

The Costa Rican pineapple industry is facing dual challenges in its U.S. export program amid increased interceptions of scale insects and some companies that allegedly falsely labeled their fruit as organic.

La Nación reported U.S. interceptions of Costa Rican pineapples contaminated with pests increased 32% year-on-year in the first half of 2015, reaching 281.

National Chamber of Pineapple Growers and Exporters (Canapep) president Abel Chaves told the publication the numbers likely had to do with an increase in exports overall, but the issue did not relate to the entire industry and was concentrated in specific farms where more efforts were needed.

In May, the issue prompted the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) to add extra inspection controls at the port of exit; a move that prompted a confrontation with growers and the eventual resignation of Francisco Dall’Anese as SFE director in early June.

Current SFE director Marco Vinicio Jiménez told the publication there was a reduction in interceptions in June, at 61 compared to 86 in May.

Another story from La Nación has reported claims against San Carlos-based companies that allegedly exported containers of conventional pineapples but labeled them as organic.

After conducting an investigation, the SFE suspended organic certification of the companies Del Valle Verde Corp. S. A., LyL Proyecto MMV S. A. and Congelados y Jugos Valle Verde S. A., which have appealed the decision.

National Chamber of Organic Agriculture (Canagro) representative Óscar Salas told www.freshfruitportal.com the case could have significant effects if the industry doesn’t react in the right way.

“And when I say ‘country’ I don’t just mean the authorities, but also the productive system,” he said.

“If we don’t react the country’s image will be very damaged overseas and with that there would be a serious impact on sales of organic pineapples,” he said.

Salas said Canagro was working in conjunction with the SFE’s investigation into the matter, delivering information of interest and also making sure procedures are not delayed by any situation that could compromise the results.

He said SFE and Canagro have also held meetings to update growers on the laws and strict application of audits into organic certification.

“We are making significant efforts with the NOP (National Organic Program) of the United States, to learn their rules and practices and try to generate equivalencies between the two systems,” he said.

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