Agriculture Minister: Peru’s agro export industry to be hard hit in 2009

Peru’s Agriculture Minister, Carlos Leyton, expects the Andean country’s agro export industry to suffer the effects of the global financial crisis, especially during the second half of 2009, daily El Comercio reported Monday.

“The whole agro export industry will suffer a sort of reduction in terms of the speed in which we were advancing,” said Leyton in comments to daily El Comercio. “It won’t slow down significantly in this period, but I believe that in (2009’s) second trimester, it will be evidenced much more clearly.”

“Asparagus, artichoke, peppers and, to a lesser extent, grape exports have been falling,” added Leyton. “We have to see what happens, because many agro export sectors will harvest in June.”

Despite Peru’s considerable economic success in 2008 and the fact that the Andean country is weathering the global crisis better than most other Latin American countries, it is nevertheless feeling the effects of the global credit crunch and falling commodity prices.

According to the Agriculture Minister, Spain and China have already significantly reduced their demand for Peruvian food products.

So, to mitigate the effects of reduced demand for asparagus and artichoke, Peruvian producers are expected to turn to alternative crops, such as fruit and avocado.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, proposed to amend the fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the importation of Hass avocados from Peru into the continental United States. Hass avocados from Peru would be required to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with an additional declaration stating that the avocados were grown, packed and inspected and found to be free of pests in accordance with the proposed requirements.

If the amendment is accepted, Peru, which produces 18 percent of Hass avocados internationally, hopes to export 19,000 tons of avocados to the United States per year.

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