This sector comprises nearly 1,300 producers, of which 1,250 are small and 50 are medium and big producers, located in the Northern, Atlantic and Pacific Zones.

By Abel Chaves

As a response to information released by the media regarding the national pineapple production, we clarify that:

The production of pineapple is not new in this country; in fact, this activity has been going on for more than 50 years. Initially, production was aimed at local consumers, and on a lower scale, industrial production of pineapple pulp, marmalade and canned products.

Pineapple exports started in 1986. In 2002, an increase began in production as a response to the embracement of the hybrid species known as “golden,” a sweeter and more appealing fruit for the consumer, making it possible for the country to reach the top position in fresh pineapple export worldwide.

This sector comprises nearly 1,300 producers, of which 1,250 are small and 50 are medium and big producers, located in the Northern, Atlantic and Pacific Zones. This productive sector is composed of companies, cooperatives and associations of small, medium and large producers.

Fifty-two percent of pineapple exports are sent to Europe, including countries like Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Germany and Spain. The United States and Canada receive 48 percent of the country’s production. Currently, thanks to new cold management techniques, Costa Rica has been able to tap other markets in areas like Russia and the Middle East.

Due to a restrained market, low production, high costs, as well as the opening of new markets, hundreds of small and medium producers have migrated to the pineapple sector, leaving other agricultural activities in the country that are now less appealing. This activity has provided hundreds of producers with the opportunity to participate in a new distribution of wealth, leading to a series of benefits for families, greater community development, as well as more and better job opportunities.

Pineapple production and exports create 27,500 direct and 110,000 indirect jobs, leading to better social, cultural, infrastructure, education, health and economic conditions, especially in areas with less development. This product is also a source of an important amount of dollars in revenue generated by exports, making pineapple the second most important export.

Compliance with International Standards

Growth in this sector has happened in compliance with national and international certification standards, without which our producers would not be able to export this fruit to these important market areas. Certifications are increasingly strict in terms of traceability and the implementation of good practices in the field of agriculture.

Agrochemicals are used in the production of pineapple, just like in any other agricultural activity in Costa Rican and in any other country around the world. In our context, we only use agrochemicals that are duly registered and approved by the Agriculture Ministry’s (MAG) Registry Department. Approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is required for exports heading to the U.S., while exports to Europe meet CODEX regulations.

In terms of pesticide residue analysis, as a common practice at the international level, producers take samples from pineapple peel and pulp and include both variables in the results.

In addition to compliance with international standards in the use of agrochemicals, good agricultural practices are key to protecting the environment. More than four years ago, the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters and the Socio-Environmental Commission for Sustainable Pineapple Production (CANAPEP-COSAP) implemented the Socio-Environmental Management System for the Sustainable Production of Pineapple (SG-PSP), which demands producers implement environmentally friendly processes.

COSAP has conducted significant training sessions on good practices for agriculture and environmental protection, as well as soil management. In these sessions we have trained more than 1,000 small and medium producers, jointly with MAG’s National Phytosanitary Service, the Ministry of Environment through its internal programs on the Reduction of Pesticide Runoffs into the Caribbean Sea, in association with the Environmental Administrative Court and the National Environmental Technical Secretariat. Also included is the implementation of MAG’s Good Practices on Agriculture Manual, mandatory to all pineapple producers in Costa Rica.

Excellent Results in Auditing

In the last evaluation by the European Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumer Policy (DG SANCO), our pineapple sector obtained excellent results, given the fact that the government of Costa Rica and private companies (pineapple producers) are complying with European requirements for pesticides in a painstaking, systematic, organized and efficient way, as expressed by the Final Report of Auditing released in October 2009.

During the visit, DG SANCO auditors confirmed that the practices and management of national pineapple production and the participation of the National Phytosanitary Service – controlling entity of this activity through the Pineapple National Program – comply with the proper management and control of pesticides in agricultural products, including pineapple.

Main observations of DG SANCO’s auditing point out that the National Phytosanitary Service works jointly with producers by providing them with training in Programs for Good Practices in Agriculture and Integrated Pest Management, which allow producers to decrease the use of agrochemicals and work in a sustainable manner.

Abel Chaves is president of the National Chamber of Pineapple Producers and Exporters (CANAPEP).
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