Mangoes off to the US

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter

Sunday, June 16, 2019

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MONTEGO BAY, St James —Jamaican mangoes are set to hit the shelves in the United States of America soon, following the inaugural export of 12,000 pounds of the fruit from the Sangster International Airport in St James on Thursday last.

“Today (Thursday, June 13), we ship 12,000 pounds of mangoes, representing 800 boxes, to the USA that are intended to supply the appetite of the Diaspora and other markets on the East Coast,” Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, JC Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson, who was speaking at the official ceremony for the export of the Jamaican mangoes to the USA at the Export Complex of the Sangster International Airport, explained that shipments of mangoes are “expected to continue once or twice a week”, until the close of the mango season in late July 2019.

He then informed that on October 20, 2014, the US Department of Agriculture cleared the way for the export of Jamaican mangoes to that country, subject to compliance with standards required by the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.

“The ministry had to work with the farmers to meet the import requirements,” Hutchinson revealed.

“Chief among the requirements was the adherence to strict management practices in order to eliminate the threat of fruit flies.”

Acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Dermon Spence, explained that “if one live pest is found, the consignment would be rejected here in Jamaica”, adding that a process called irradiation to eliminate the threat of fruit flies has been embraced.

Irradiation is the process through which the fruits are treated using a form of energy called ionising radiation. It involves exposing food, either in bulk or packaged, to gamma rays for a specified amount of time. This process sterilises the pest so they are not capable of reproducing. The process, however, does not rob the fruit of its taste.

“There is a protocol to be followed with certain conditions such as the consignment being packaged in approved boxes and irradiation plastic all the way to the irradiation facility in the USA,” Spence told the gathering at the send-off.

For some time now Jamaica has been exporting mangoes to the UK and Canada who did not require the same treatment process as the US.

Hutchinson disclosed that so far two farms have been certified to export mangoes to the US and another seven are currently under consideration for certification.

“These seven farms will be visited within the month to facilitate certification thereafter,” Hutchinson said.


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