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Costa Rica: Fighting the chayote mite to protect exports

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-06-01  Views: 12
Core Tip: The State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of Costa Rica, together with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), has prepared a brochure with recommendations for producers to combat
The State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock (MAG) of Costa Rica, together with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), has prepared a brochure with recommendations for producers to combat the chayote mite.

The aim is for producers to apply good agricultural practices to control the pest, and that these are enforced by both permanent and temporary staff in the different processes (at the production site, in the post-harvest and at the packing plant).

Costa Rica ships chayote to the United States, so the pest spreading could have a negative impact on the product's exports. "It is necessary to clarify that the mite does not attack the chayote; what is actually harmed is the export due to commercial restrictions," asserted Gerardo Granados, head of the Department of Regional Operations, of the SFE.

The brochure recommends 7 measures at production sites, including appointing a person in charge of pest monitoring to keep records and inform those in charge of pest control about the plantation's phytosanitary condition, controlling weeds, removing abandoned chayote crops, calibrating application equipment, and removing dry materials from the plantation to improve the reach and effectiveness of pesticides.

With regard to the harvest period, it is advisable to enforce at least 6 activities, such as washing the chayotes in the field to eliminate the mites, washing the boxes or tubs before and after harvesting, not using paper or plant materials as box bottoms, washing the means of transport where the chayote boxes are going to travel and covering the trucks to avoid contamination; protecting the boxes in the field before and after the harvest with a washable blanket and keeping records of applications, pest monitoring, etc.

Lastly, the institutions recommend 12 good practices in the packing plants, including washing the workwear to avoid contamination and using colour-coded garments in different areas, prohibiting field workers from entering the packing plants, or keeping the fruit in a moving tank with water for at least five minutes, so that the pest goes to the bottom and doesn't reach the surface, among other recommendations.

The dry season is when the mites cause the biggest problems, but it is important to always enforce these good agricultural practices, affirmed Granados.

 
 
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