The Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in Carolina remains among the top 10 airports nationwide in terms of the volume of imported flowers that U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspects, the agency said Monday.
During the 2014 Valentine Season, San Juan ranked among the Top 10 ports of entry in volume of imported flowers, processing 2,152,283 cut flowers. Miami ranked as the first among U.S. ports of entry for shipments of cut flower imports, followed by Los Angeles.
Flowers are one of the most popular gift items during the yearly celebration of Valentine’s Day and other popular yearly celebrations, but they could also be the hiding place for dangerous pests. Detecting and preventing pests from entering the U.S. avoids significant economic and environmental harm, the CPB said.
CBP agriculture specialists search for these bugs and diseases on cut flower imports arriving, primarily from South America, with Colombia being the main flower exporter, followed by Ecuador.
“Stopping pests at the ports of entry is a critical mission for CBP agricultural specialists to protect the public and our commercial vitality,” said Marcelino Borges, director of field operations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In Puerto Rico, 214 actionable pests were intercepted in 2013, with 113 pests intercepted at the Rafael Hernández Airport in Aguadilla and 101 at LMM.
Nationwide CBP processed approximately 791million cut flower stems during the 2014 Valentine’s season (from Jan. 1 to Feb. 7, 2014) compared to 867 million stems processed during the 2013 season (a decrease of 8.8 percent).