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Five Citrus Varieties from Mainland China May Be Allowed to Enter U.S. Market

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced on 1 May a revised draft rule that would allow five species of fresh citrus fruit – pomelo, Nanfeng honey mandarin, ponkan, sweet orange and Satsuma mandarin – to enter the continental United States from mainland China. Comments on the relevant pest risk analysis may be submitted through 1 July; following the comment period, APHIS may finalise this proposal and allow the importation of the five citrus fruit species under certain conditions.

This particularly extended process began in 2014 with a request from the national plant protection organisation of mainland China. At that time, APHIS announced a 60-day public comment period on a pest risk assessment and risk management document to cover the five varieties of fresh, commercially produced, citrus fruit to be imported from the mainland into the continental United States. The citrus varieties were Citrus grandis (L.) Osbeck cv. Guanximiyou (pomelo); Citrus kinokuni Hort. ex Tanaka (Nanfeng honey mandarin); Citrus poonensis Hort. ex Tanaka (ponkan); Citrus sinensis (L.) Osbeck (sweet orange); and Citrus unshiu Marcov. (Satsuma mandarin).

In 2014, mainland Chinese authorities expressed concern regarding a proposed requirement that all of these fruits be bagged with double-layered paper bags when the fruits are no more than two centimetres in diameter and still on the tree. They indicated that such bagging was a standard industry practice in mainland China for pomelos for export but would not be operationally feasible for the other four types of citrus fruit.

In 2017, the NPPO of mainland China asked APHIS again whether a protocol could be established to allow the importation of the five types of citrus fruit. A review of scientific literature conducted by APHIS identified two additional quarantine pests, both Lepidoptera, and APHIS has prepared a new PRA to identify all pests of quarantine significance that could follow the citrus importation pathway. In order to allow these five varieties of citrus fruit to be imported from mainland China the NPPO would need to enter into an operational workplan with APHIS to implement the measures identified in the RMD, as follows:

  • importation in commercial consignments only;
  • registration of places of production and packinghouses;
  • certification by the NPPO of propagative material as free of quarantine pests;
  • periodic inspections of places of production throughout the shipping season;
  • grove sanitation;
  • production places determined to be free of the following pests: Bactrocera minax , B. tsuneonis, B. correcta, B. cucurbitae, B. dorsalis, B. orientalis, B. pedestris and B. tau; or the determination that certain places with low fruit fly incidence will have in-transit cold treatment as an additional phytosanitary safeguard;
  • maintaining the identity and origin of the lot of fruit throughout the export process to the United States;
  • safeguarding of harvested fruit;
  • post-harvest visual inspection of fruit by the NPPO or authorised officials using a biometric sample;
  • cutting a portion of the fruit in the sample to inspect for quarantine pests;
  • washing, brushing and treatment with a surface disinfectant;
  • issuance of a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration;
  • port of entry inspections;
  • importation under a permit issued by APHIS; and
  • remedial measures in the event of quarantine pest detection at any point.

APHIS will consider exempting pomelos from most of these procedures if grown in low-pest regions and bagged with double-layered paper bags at least two months before harvest.

Content provided by Picture: HKTDC Research
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