Increases in the cost of fumigation, electrical blackouts, and uneven ripening as a result of climate change put at risk the export of 40 thousand tons of Oaxacan mango that at least 5 thousand producers from San Francisco Ixhuatán, Chahuites, and San Pedro Tapanatepec, municipalities from the eastern part of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, they sell every year in the United States and Canada. The cutting of the fruit has already started in 2021.
The greatest danger faced by hoses, warns producer Luis Eduardo de Los Santos, is that the federal government, through the Rural Development Secretariat of the National Agricultural Health, Safety and Quality Service (Senasica), suspended aerial spraying to combat pests such as the fruit fly, although it has not been eradicated in the Isthmus, as it considers that this scheme damages species such as bees.
“We run the risk that the United States will close the borders to the mango from Oaxaca if the failures that are occurring in the health campaigns are not corrected. We can go to quarantine if some mango has a live larva, because not all producers have the money to fumigate on the ground, ”says De Los Santos.
Before, a flight to fumigate mango plantations cost 20 thousand pesos and a year there were 200. Now, he explains, land fumigation costs him 8 thousand pesos per hectare.
The risk is latent, the producer warns, because according to data from the General Directorate of Plant Health of Senasica, only from January 8 to February 2 of this year six orchards in the Isthmus area were unauthorized to export to the United States, because among its sampled fruits they found larvated mangoes.
Of these, four orchards are located in San Pedro Tapanatepec, one in Chahuites and another in San Blas Atempa, municipalities that, although not in the eastern zone, are part of the Isthmus plain.
The decision to suspend aerial spraying and prioritize land spraying occurred in 2020, in the context of an internal dispute between producers for control of the Local Board of Plant Health Mangueros Unidos de Chahuites and Tapanatepec, which was born 20 years ago as a civil association to regulate pest control and export of the fruit.
This board, annually, handles about 10 million pesos as a result of contributions paid by the hoses for registration so that they are allowed to export.
This conflict has been dragging on since 2018. That year precisely, Luis Eduardo de Los Santos was president of that civil association and received the support of the producers to continue at the helm for another three-year period, but last year it was unknown by the producers themselves and made the change of the board of directors of the Local Board of Plant Health.
Since then, the authorities of the agricultural sector authorized the intervention of the civil association Empresas Exportadoras de Mango (EMEX AC), to be in charge of coordinating the health tasks for the fight against pests and exports. EMEX is a conglomerate that groups together most of the companies that sell mangoes abroad.
“It is a mess between rich and poor producers,” says one of the Chahuites hostels, who reveals that now the new managers are charging 300 pesos per hectare for export registration, plus a peso with 50 cents per box. Annually, 10 million boxes of mango are exported.
Every year between December and April, which is the normal harvest and export period, mango producers also suffer from failures and blackouts that occur in the supply of electricity.
“Before, the transmission line that fed us the electricity came from Juchitán, but due to the strong winds the service was interrupted and then we agreed with CFE, which began to send energy from Arriaga, Chiapas, and promised to give maintenance to their lines, which are more than 50 years old, but did not comply, “regret producers.
The result of this lack of maintenance is the blackouts that are registered in the area, which during the export season cause damage to the packinghouses and the fruits. The risk is greater for packing houses that do not have a power plant.
“When the mangoes are in hydrothermal ponds, to guarantee their safety, if the power goes out, it burns and is not suitable for export. The producer assumes that loss, equivalent to a loaded trailer. The CFE does not assume its responsibility, ”says De los Santos.
“There is no year, since 2018, that these blackouts have not occurred,” regret the producers, who denounce that the CFE began to increase its rates three years ago.