Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker, together with the National Director of the Chilean Agricultural and Livestock Service (SAG), Horacio Bórquez, and the Regional Ministerial Secretary for Agriculture for the Valparaíso Region, Humberto Lepe, traveled to the Los Libertadores border crossing between Chile and Argentina. Their objective was to personally inspect the work being done by SAG officers to guarantee the food supply chain while simultaneously protecting the country from plant and animal pests and diseases within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We must safeguard the food supply. Farming does not stop, and products must be able to flow from the field to the table. Today, we are at the border crossing watching the stream of trucks and cargo bringing food and there is practically no difference with respect to what we experienced last year in terms of the flow of food products,” said the Agriculture Minister, Antonio Walker.
The Minister added, “we wanted to come to the border crossing to see how our SAG staff are doing, how the customs officers are doing, as well as the PDI (investigative police) and Carabineros (uniformed police) officers, and everyone else who plays a role in ensuring food distribution. I would sincerely like to thank all of these officers who are continuing to work so that there is no shortage of food. This is quite moving and motivates one to keep working to maintain the continuity of the food supply chain.”
Meanwhile SAG National Director Horacio Bórquez noted that “SAG officials throughout Chile are committed to making sure that products are able to enter the country, thereby safeguarding the food supply chain. As a result, the main points of entry in the country are open and functioning without any problems. Moreover, a series of measures has been taken to guarantee that Chileans will have access to everything they need while protecting the health of the officers, who are following all of the safety measures recommended by the health authorities for the workplace, as well as protecting plant and animal health in our country.”
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Agriculture Ministry, through SAG, has implemented a series of measures to ease import procedures for forestry, agriculture and livestock products at borders with sanitary and phytosanitary controls (such as ports, inspection sites, intermodal terminals, ZEAL (the Logistical Support and Extension Zone) and El Sauce Land Port of Entry in Los Andes (PTLA)).
These include operational measures aimed at strengthening electronic systems among countries. One example is authorization to submit scanned phytosanitary certificates that have been issued by an official address or that can be verified through an online system belonging to the National Phytosanitary Protection Organization (ONPF). As for importing animal products, SAG is currently in the final stage of approving the implementation of an information system that would allow Veterinary Certificates (CV) to be viewed online, having been previously uploaded to the system by the Animal Health Services of the country of origin. This would eliminate the need to wait for delivery of the original document in order to authorize entry of the product.
In terms of the Cristo Redentor system, both Los Libertadores Border Crossing and El Sauce Land Port of Entry will continue to operate, focusing on inspecting forestry, agricultural and livestock products coming from neighboring countries.
So far this year, border controls have intercepted more than 7 tons of plant and animal products with biosecurity risks. There have been 13 cases of fruit flies (Ceratitis capitata) detected, in spite of the decrease in vehicle traffic. Actually, there have been a greater number of interceptions of agricultural and animal products as compared with the previous period, thanks to an increase in the number of inspectors, detector dogs and x-ray machines.
“We are on site to inspect this huge border complex, spanning more than 29,000 square meters. We invested over US$300 million in this border crossing to aid the crossing of trucks, buses, and other vehicles, and we are very pleased to confirm that SAG is doing its job. We must safeguard the ongoing sanitary and phytosanitary efforts being undertaken by Chile, while at the same time, maintaining our ability to feed our country,” concluded the Agriculture Minister, Antonio Walker.