Strategic Approach for a Succesful and Sustainable Project

The strategy focused on demonstrating the technical and operational feasibility of establishing fruit fly-low pest prevalence areas (FF-ALPP) and fruit fly-pest free areas (FF-PFA) to promote fruit and vegetable exports and the viability of sustaining them through the resulting economic and social benefits to ministries of agriculture, national plant protection organizations and the fruit and vegetable industries.

According to FAO's Glossary of Phytosanitary Terms (FAO 2001) an ALPP is:

An area, whether all of a country, or all or parts of several countries, as identified by the competent authorities, in which a specific pest occurs at low levels and which is subject to effective surveillance, control or eradication measures.

An area in which a specific pest does not occur as demonstrated by scientific evidence and in which, where appropriate, this condition is being officially maintained.

Implementation was based on an AW-IPM approach. In some cases the SIT was a major component to achieve the desired levels of pest control (Tween 1993). In others, where populations occurred naturally at low levels, only marginally attacked the relevant host, or did not exist, the approach taken was through certification of the phytosanitary status by means of an effective surveillance system. Exports from FF-ALPP would then be done under a systems approach (USDA 1997) to assure negligible level of risk of moving live pests.

This strategic approach is quite different from a country or region-wide fruit fly suppression, containment or eradication effort, which requires a different level of financial commitment, infrastructure and phytosanitary framework. By using pilot areas, the human and financial resources and infrastructure to develop and sustain FF-ALPP and FF-PFA was minimized compared to taking a country or region-wide approach. Additionally, project objectives were aligned with the sanitary and phytosanitary regulations of the US-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA); with the US-Panama free trade negotiations, and with the goals of the Regional Council for Agricultural Cooperation in Central America and Panama (CORECA) and of the Regional International Committee for Health in Agriculture and Livestock for Central America (CIRSA), which are the bodies that set up regional agricultural and phytosanitary policies.

Thus, it was expected that once it became fully aware of the potential benefits that can be derived from the project, the industry would contribute not only to sustain the project but also to gradually expand the areas from where fruits and vegetables could be exported. It was also expected that governments would act more decisively to implement policies that encouraged trade of agricultural products within and from the region.

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