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Tiny Fruit Fly Holds Up Brazilian Exports

UNITED STATES concerns about the fruit fly are a major obstacle for South American fruit exporters. However, this year a new hot water bath opened the way for the first mango exports to the US from Brazil and Peru. Maisa and several other Brazilian companies work hard to meet US requirements. ``I like the challenge,'' says Maisa agronomist Jos'e Luis Morgado de Freitas, noting that Maisa is one of two active fruit exporters in Brazil with a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) authorization for North Atlantic ports.

Maisa built a special screened-in packing shed, which is used only in the daytime because lights at night would draw too many insects. The company pays $30,000 to $40,000 for a US official to come to Brazil and inspect its melon-packing operation. There are also fruit-fly traps in the fields. And at the port of embarkation, a USDA inspector samples the fruit for pests.

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Maisa has been exporting for five years to the US, and hopes to get USDA to sell fresh fruit to the southern US. ``You can export three times to the United States what you export to Europe,'' says Mr. Morgado. But permission depends on the country's ability to wipe out the fruit fly.

``The private sector, the university system, and the government, have been working toward a pest-free area,'' notes Herbert Murphy, regional director for USDA. ``They've made an awful lot of progress, but it hasn't progressed to the point where we would feel comfortable dropping the restriction [on the southern US].''

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