Questions and answers: Systems approaches for imported horticulture products
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What is a systems approach?
A systems approach is a method for producing and exporting plant products to ensure they are free from plant pests regulated by the importing country. It includes different pest risk mitigation measures, such as pest trapping, inspection of products and safeguarding the final product to prevent infestation by pests. At least two of these measures must act independently, with a cumulative effect.
A systems approach is supervised by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) of the exporting country and is founded on the internationally recognized guidelines described in ISPM 14: The use of integrated measures in a systems approach for pest risk management - PDF (327 kb).
When would a systems approach be used?
A systems approach may be used when other pest risk mitigation measures are not available or desirable. For example, a systems approach may be used as an alternative to fumigating products.
How does a systems approach get accepted?
If the NPPO of the exporting country is interested in using a systems approach to certify horticulture products (e.g. fresh fruits and vegetables, plants intended for planting) for export to Canada, they must submit a detailed written proposal describing the systems approach to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA's) Horticulture Section.
The systems approach must follow the guidelines described in ISPM 14: The use of integrated measures in a systems approach for pest risk management - PDF (327 kb) and must mitigate the risks posed by any pests on the List of Pests Regulated by Canada that could be associated with the product in the country of export. For additional guidance on developing a systems approach, please see Systems approach for production of plant products.
The CFIA reviews the systems approach proposal and responds to the NPPO with requests for additional information as needed. The CFIA may also need to visit the exporting country to review production practices.
If the systems approach proposal is satisfactory, the CFIA informs the NPPO that the systems approach is accepted for export of the product in question to Canada. The CFIA may then conduct periodic audits of the systems approach in the exporting country.
How can I get a systems approach implemented in an exporting country?
Canadian importers who import products that must currently be fumigated may be interested in having the exporting country implement a systems approach as an alternative to fumigation. Developing, implementing and managing a systems approach can take considerable investment of resources from the exporting country's NPPO. Because of this, the NPPO may be more likely to pursue this option if there is strong demand for product produced under a systems approach. Interested Canadian importers may therefore wish to ask their suppliers in the exporting country to discuss implementing a systems approach with their NPPO.
Please note that, while the CFIA encourages the use of systems approaches as an alternative to fumigation, the CFIA will not initiate a request to a foreign NPPO to implement a systems approach. The onus is on the foreign NPPO to communicate their interest to the CFIA and develop a systems approach proposal.
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