That is why a reporter who was about to cross into Costa Rica had to take care of tangerines. Fortunately another traveler was willing to eat half a bag of the fruit.
The reason for tight measures is to avoid disease and to protect Costa Rican agriculture, said Nelson Morera, the chief of the Departamento de Control de Fitosanitario. He works at the vegetable crops department of the the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia.
The United States has similar rules, as most travelers know.
But this is only the rule for personal non-commercial importation, said Morera. Companies that actually import have to follow a set of guidelines for those types of products to enter Costa Rica. There is a document called Certificado Fitosanitario, which is the approximate equivalent to a passport for the product being shipped, said Morera. There are labs at borders for commercial purposes.
The certificate is available on the Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganaderia Web site. An approval process requires testing to show the material is disease-free.
The top problems officials tried to spot in 2012 are locusts, bacteriosis acidovorax avenae (a disease agent that attacks watermelon), white flies, aphids and field rats, according to the ministry Web site. These harm Costa Rican coconuts, pineapple, sugar cane, cantaloupe, watermelon and rice.