Mon, Nov 11, 2002 - Page 10 News List

Official sent to inspect apples in US

AGRICULTURE A codling moth larvae was found in a crate of apples imported from the US state of Washington on Thursday, triggering a ban that may last several weeks


Taiwan will send a quarantine official to Washington State to inspect its orchards and transportation network before deciding if a new import ban on all US apple imports can be lifted, an official said yesterday.

Taiwan, the third-largest importer of Washington apples, imposed the ban Thursday after finding a codling moth larvae in a shipment of the apples.

Chang Shih-yang, from the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, will visit the US in the next few days, said Chang Hung-yi, a Council of Agriculture official. The ban is not expected to last more than a couple of weeks, several retailers speculated yesterday.

"It may take about two weeks for the US authorities to process the measure and to receive approval from the Taiwan government [before lifting the ban]," said Raymond Tsui (崔彥家), a manager at Tesco Stores Co Taiwan (特易購).

"The ban is not likely to go longer than a month because the government will feel the pressure from the US which imports millions of boxes of apples annually," said a market insider who preferred not to be named.

According to the bureau's Lee Chin-lung (李金龍), a codling moth larvae was found in one apple out of 196 boxes of Washington apples in the Kaohsiung port. After it took two-days to identify the insect, the bureau decided to issue the ban.

The codling moth, a destructive fruit pest introduced into the US over 200 years ago, now is prevalent throughout North America as well as most areas were apples are grown.

The codling moth attacks a wide range of plants that bear fruit including apples, pears, quince, hawthorn and crab apples.

Taiwan grows both apples and pears.

"In an effort to protect local orchards, we decided to issue the ban," Lee said.

In the US, one market representative objected to the ban.

"We feel Taiwan was really quite onerous in its actions," said Mark Powers, vice president for the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima, Washington. "We've been shipping to Taiwan for 25 years and never before had a codling moth detected, so this is really an extraordinary event."

Meanwhile, local retailers don't expect to see a shortage this month.

"We still have six containers or more than 7,000 boxes of Washington apples in stock and can sufficiently meet market demand for three weeks," said Fiona Wang (王彤芳), a manager at RT-Mart (大潤發), which is a joint venture between French and Taiwanese companies.

The company doesn't have any plan to raise apple prices because of the ban, she said.

More than 80 percent of locally sold apples are imported from the US, with the remainder coming from Japan and South Korea.

"If we see a shortage in US imports, the company may increase the amount of Japanese and [South] Korean apple imports," Tsui said.

Taiwan is the third-largest importer of Washington apples and the nation imported 3.3 million 19kg boxes of apples last year.

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