Brazil’s agriculture ministry has ordered the immediate suspension of imports of Argentine apples and pears following the discovery of codling moth in consignments hailing from the Uco Valley in Mendoza.
The decision, which was announced on Tuesday, brings further woes to Argentina’s beleaguered topfruit industry, which is facing one of its worst seasons in history due to weak prices on global markets, lower production and declining profitability.
The ministry said the ban, which also applies to quince, does not affect consignments that already had import licenses but will apply to all shipments from this point forward. Several trucks en route from Mendoza to Brazil are expected to be turned away at the border, according to Juan Riveira, president of the Uco Valley Fruit Producers Association.
“We take every care and have all the necessary precautions in place, but when it comes to pests and disease there can be no compromise,” Brazil’s agriculture minister Kátia Abreu said in a statement. “Our tolerance level is zero, irrespective of who the trading partner is.”
A report by the regional government of Rio Negro estimates that if the present market conditions continue, the industry could be facing total losses of more than US$83m this year. Argentina’s Chamber of Integrated Fruit Producers (Cafi) said the devaluation of the rouble and euro, high Northern Hemisphere stocks, labour unrest and weather related production losses were taking a heavy toll on the regional economy, leading to “lower employment, fewer resources being available for the entire supply chain and falling revenues for the government”.