On August 24 I had the opportunity to represent CAADES Sinaloa at the bilateral meeting between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration – FDA, SENASICA, and COFEPRIS.
The meeting took place in Mexico City. The purpose of this meeting was to share the experiences of different agricultural organizations in food safety. SENASICA was represented by its Chief Director, Dr. Francisco Javier Trujillo Arriaga, as well as the Director General of Agrifood, Aquaculture and Fisheries Safety, Pharmaceutical Biologist Amada Velez Méndez, on behalf of COFEPRIS Miriam Jackeline Loera Rosales, General Director of International Affairs, Dr. Donald Prater, FDA Commissioner for Food Safety, and Mr. Michael Rogers, Assistant Commissioner for Food Safety, FDA, Mr. Michael Rogers, Assistant Commissioner for Food and Feed Operations and Office of Regulatory Events, and Michelle Rodriguez, Deputy Regional Director, Office of Latin America, OGPS.
In his welcome message, Dr. Trujillo mentioned the excellent collaboration that SENASICA and FDA have had for decades. I was very pleased and honored to hear in his message that he mentioned CAADES as an ally with whom they have worked and solved safety issues since the 1980s.
It is worth noting that this relationship between institutions is fundamental for both nations. Of U.S. vegetable imports, 63% come from Mexico, as do 32% of its imported fruits. This market is also a determining factor for Mexico since as a country we export $8.6 billion’ worth of vegetables every year, 95% of our exports. We also send them 90% of our fruit exports, approximately $8.2 billion.
Sinaloa is also a key player in this trade. We plant more than 50,000 hectares of vegetables, 8,000 of which are in protected agriculture. From here we export between $1 billion and $1.2 billion’ worth of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, eggplants, and other vegetables every year.
Therefore, we depend commercially, unquestionably, on our neighbor to the north. And they, in turn, depend on us for access to fresh, healthy, and safe food.
In addition to CAADES & Veggies From Mexico, some of Mexico’s most important agricultural organizations such as APEAM, EMEX, PROEXPORT PAPAYA, ANEBERRIES, among others, also participated. The meeting was a great success and lasted approximately three hours. In our participation as CAADES we presented the different safety programs that we have throughout the state of Sinaloa. The trainings sessions that are given every year on various topics where thousands of technicians and growers have access to webinars and courses on safety, social responsibility, and personal growth. We also mention the small growers’ program, where those who are starting to export can quickly and effectively self-evaluate safety issues. Finally, we mentioned the Eleven Rivers Growers – Veggies from Mexico project, where growers, in addition to having to be certified, receive weekly audits to ensure continuous compliance with criteria.
It is worth noting that all the organizations recognized the work of SENASICA and endorsed the strength of the federal agency’s Contamination Risk Reduction System (CRRS) certificate. Although North American customers generally request some different commercial certificates, we consider the SRRC to be extremely strong and unique in its class, as it is one of the only ones issued worldwide by a public agency, such as SENASICA.
In the end, all the participants were thanked for this first historic bilateral meeting and were invited to continue collaborating and seeking that the type of dynamics is carried out at least once a year. It is worth mentioning that this is the first time that a meeting of this kind is held in which Mexican growers’ organizations can exchange experiences with the U.S. authority.
Veggies From Mexico, CEO