The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a rule to allow U.S. imports of West African tomatoes.
An Aug. 2 USDA proposed rule in the Federal Register would allow fresh tomatoes that meet certain phytosanitary requirements to be shipped to the U.S. The agency said it will accept all comments received on or before Oct. 3.
As a condition of entry, the USDA said the tomatoes from the Economic Community of West African States will be subject to a systems approach that would include requirements for pest exclusion at the production site, fruit fly trapping and monitoring and procedure for packing the tomatoes.
Senegal requested permission from the USDA to ship tomatoes to the U.S., but the USDA is considered all the West African states — Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo — in the pest risk assessment. Pests that were considered to pose a high risk include the melon fruit fly, the Asian fruit fly, Medfly and other pests.
If tomato shipments are approved, the USDA projects that tomato exports to the U.S. from West African states would total about 1,900 metric tons per year.