The Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) is committed to food safety, sanitary responsibility, and traceability in all 42,000 avocado-exporting orchards in Michoacán. A large part of the sanitary success can be attributed to the vigilant work of Las Juntas Locales de Sanidad Vegetal (JLSV).
Las Juntas are 19 autonomous local boards of avocado producers. Each local board operates as an auxiliary agency of the Mexican Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER), which is responsible for training Las Juntas inspectors, creating standardized operations, and overseeing the use of resources. While SADER is the authority on food safety across the country, it relies on the Las Juntas board in each municipality to conduct local inspections.
These inspections happen regularly in every orchard across all 39 avocado-exporting municipalities in Michoacán. Las Juntas inspectors support their local avocado farmers by monitoring the sanitary guidelines and ensuring requirements are met in their orchards to minimize pollution risks. Las Juntas inspectors formulate, execute, and evaluate food safety measures within orchards, verifying that every orchard is in compliance with the best agricultural practices laid out by SADER and the National Service for Agricultural Food Safety, Health, and Quality (SENASICA).
One of the key responsibilities of Las Juntas is preventing pests and diseases from spreading between orchards by identifying the issue early. For instance, if harmful pests, weeds, or diseases are found in orchards, Las Juntas inspectors will monitor the application of approved pesticides while making sure they aren’t harming the local ecosystem or spreading the infection to other regions. This is all included in the trainings that Las Juntas give to their local producers.
Before any avocado grower can sell their crops to be exported, they must first be inspected and certified. If they comply with the food safety and quality guidelines provided by SADER and the USDA, among other requirements, it is Las Juntas who register them in the Sistema Integral de Cosecha de Aguacate (SICOA), or the Avocado Harvest Information System, in English. SICOA is a comprehensive database that lists which growers are certified for exporting their avocados. They are also responsible for issuing BICO, a harvest log that records the information of the orchard, the harvest, and all the food safety inspections.
Finally, Las Juntas supervise the dry matter test. This sampling test guarantees that each batch of avocados contain 23% of dry matter in alignment with the high-quality standards of the industry. Achieving these standards ensures that all avocados from Mexico are creamy, delicious, and nutritious.
The surveillance and involvement by Las Juntas guarantee that pickers and packers follow the quality and food safety standards at every step of the process, from harvesting in the orchards to safety in the packing houses. This commitment by Las Juntas is yet another pillar that supports the safety standards, practices, and goals of APEAM.