- Category: Business
- Published on Tuesday, August 30 2011 01:17
- Written by Rod Hughes
- Hits: 514
Exporters to the United States of the dracaena type of ornamental bushes are now required to be certified by the Ministry of Agriculture's plant sanitation authorities locally in order to continue their trade.
The export of flowers and ornamental plants is one of the oldest, quietest and most durable examples of foreign trade. Export flowers are often raised in plastic-paned hot house, not to protect them from bitter winters, but as a barrier to the burning sun.
Time was when growers of dracaena bushes (most often kept growing in pots in the U.S.) only had to register with the ministry but the U.S. Department of Agriculture has tightened regulations. (U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica Anne Andrew told the business paper El Financiero that 50% of ornamental plants imported by the country come from Costa Rica.)
"The program has as its objective the reduction of the number of diseases in this species," according to Magda Gonzalez, director of the ministry's plant sanitation section. She warns that now growers will be unable to export the shrubs without certification.
With modern transport and the growing international trade, plants and seeds have increasingly come under scrutiny for transporting pests. But six-legged "hitch hikers" are also a problem.
Recently port inspectors at Los Angeles found a wood-boring beetle not native to California had caught a free ride in a shipment of pineapple from Costa Rica, even though the insect is not a feeder on the fruit.
The State of California is perhaps the strictest in the United States when it comes to guarding against import of plant diseases. Even land travelers entering the state are asked suspiciously if they are carrying any fruits or vegetables as if they might be smuggling guns. An orange bought at an Oregon supermarket, for example, is subject to confiscation.
The State of Florida has been much more lax in the past and has paid dearly for it, as imported alien plants have become, in themselves, pests. In Florida's sub-tropical climate where everything grows happily, sometimes crowding out native species.
Costa Rica has not been immune to this unfortunate immigration. In the 1980s, the black sigatoka disease hit local coffee plantations, suspected of having been imported from Nicaragua.