Costa Rica enters the U.S. pepper market after big effort

Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería photo Technicians check out the pepper plants

After a three-year effort the first container of Costa Rican peppers is on its way to the United States.

The opening of the new market for products from here follows an extensive effort to comply with sanitation rules mainly directed against the Mediterranean fruit fly.

This is the insect that has ravaged crops mainly in California by laying eggs under the skin of fruit crops.

The Ministerio de Agricultura y Ganadería considers the exportation a triumph for the country. The 10,500 kilos of peppers comes from Buenos Aires de Puntarenas and belong to the transnational Del Monte.

In 2009 Costa Rica was able to meet international standards in 2009 for the exportation of fresh tomatoes and peppers, which Costa Ricans call chiles dulces.

Officials here worked with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to win certification that the product is free of fruit flies.

The grower had to begin monitoring of the product two months before harvest by setting up traps to capture any fruit flies in the area. There were 34 traps within the covered areas where the peppers were grown and 18 outside. The capture of just a few fruit flies would prevent exportation.

Costa Rican and U.S. plant specialists are not doing weekly inspections, said the agriculture departments. Officials envision weekly container shipments of the product. The first is en route to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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