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Ornamental plant producers acquire new markets

The Issue

Ornamental plant producers that want to increase trade with Central and South America face many challenges, including the need to develop pest risk assessments (PRAs) for their products. PRAs can be rather complicated, and the PRA process involves numerous reviews by the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Additionally, PRAs are sometimes deemed unacceptable by the receiving country, due to the high level of expertise in pest management required to meet the requirements of the document. The PRA can thus present a hurdle, delaying trade and, hence, potential profitability for aspiring growers and exporters. Part of the UCCE mission is to assist California growers with sustainability and profitability, and we are also the experts when it comes to pest management and pest risk. The following case set useful precedents for trade in ornamental plants with Guatemala.

What Has ANR Done?

A potential customer contacted Obra Verde Growers about growing Proteas in Guatemala. The requirements included creation of a PRA, which would have to be approved by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Guatemala's Agricultural Department. After the first couple of reports were rejected as being incomplete, Obra Verde Growers connected with UCCE advisor James Bethke to contribute the needed scientific knowledge and data. UCCE assisted Obra Verde Growers in developing the PRA and then cooperated and coordinated with regulatory staff from San Diego County, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and Guatemala.

The Payoff

Hundreds of thousands of ornamental plant cuttings can now be exported

UCCE assisted in the development of a PRA that received approval from both USDA-APHIS and Guatemala, and as a result Obra Verde Growers will now be able to sell product to Guatemala growers. Since approval of the PRA, Obra Verde Growers has started the first of what will be at least two contracts. The first one is for 200,000 bare root Leucadendrons, worth $2.50 each, with delivery to begin by the end of October 2014. Furthermore, this case set a precedent for other local growers, making it easier for them to set up similar agreements to market ornamental plants and plant parts in Guatemala.

Clientele Testimonial

This process was started well over a year and a half ago, and without Jim's help, I feel we would still be trying to complete the PRA for approval! - Joe Walker, Obra Verde Growers


Supporting Unit: San Diego County

James A. Bethke, Floriculture and Nursery Advisor, UCCE San Diego County
James A. Bethke, jabethke@ucanr.edu