Tomatoes grown in the member States of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have been approved entry to the continental US market by the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS).
ECOWAS comprises Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote D’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.
Under the deal, tomatoes from the ECOWAS will be subject to a systems approach that includes requirements for pest exclusion at the production site, fruit fly trapping and
monitoring, and procedures for packing the tomatoes, USDA-APHIS said in a statement.
The tomatoes will also be required to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued by the national plant protection organisation of the exporting country with an additional declaration that the tomatoes have been produced in accordance with these requirements.
While being used for packing tomatoes for export to the US, USDA-APHIS said the packhouses will only be allowed to accept fruit from registered production sites.
In addition, the agency said no shade trees may be grown within 10m of the entry door of the packhouses, and no other fruit fly host plants may be grown within 50m of the entrance either.
According to USDA-APHIS, the protocol will allow for tomato imports to get underway, while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of quarantine pests to the US.
The deal becomes effective on 12 July.