East Hawaii News

USDA Lifts Ban on Sharwil Avocado Exports

September 11, 2013, 3:37 PM HST
* Updated September 11, 3:38 PM
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The US Department of Agriculture is lifting a ban on the shipment of Sharwil avocados from Hawaii to parts of the US mainland.

The department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has been considering lifting the ban since February.

A rule to be published in the Federal Register on Thursday will allow shipping of the Hawaii avocados to 32 states and the District of Columbia.

Concerns about the fruit carrying fruit flies prompted a ban in 1992 on shipments of Sharwils.

Studies conducted by APHIS determined that Sharwils are a poor fruit fly host.

However, the USDA is implementing rules regarding the handling of the exports. They include a requirement that the avocados must be picked when still hard and must have a portion of the stem still attached.

Also, shipments to southern states, where fruit flies presumably could reproduce, will still be prohibited.

Sen. Mazie Hirono said efforts to lift the ban have been ongoing for nearly a decade, and studies were conducted beginning in 2004 at the request of the late Sen. Dan Inouye.

Hirono said there are currently about 280 avocado farms in Hawaii, most of them located on the Big Island.

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