Since last year, Colombia counts with its first EU-certified laboratory for residue analysis of pesticides and mycotoxins in food and feed: FYTOLAB Colombia, part of the Belgium-based group. For JUNA this is very good news. As part of our quality control system, JUNA commissions regular laboratory analyses of our products, in particular to ensure compliance of our products with the European Union’s maximum pesticide residue levels. Having a certified lab directly in Bogota gives us access to expert technical advice and guidance close to home. And we no longer have to send different fruit samples to labs in Europe thousands of miles away.
Why is FYTOLAB investing in a separate presence in Colombia and shipping in state-of-the-art lab equipment from overseas? Carine Declercq, General Manager of Fytolab, says: “If you look at Colombia, it’s right there among the world’s top agricultural exporters. And the country has only tapped into a fraction of its export potential. It makes sense for us to be here. Demand from exporters such as JUNA is growing by the day.”
FYTOLAB has its origins in the research activities on pesticide residues of the Department of Crop Protection Chemistry at the University of Ghent. Over the last few decades, the expansion of European residue legislation and increasing public awareness about the importance of minimizing residues has led to growing commercial demand for sophisticated laboratory testing. In Ghent, standards for routine laboratories were considerably reinforced over time.
FYTOLAB Colombia is officially accredited ISO 17025, so quality and technology in Colombia are at the same level as in Europe. The mission of FYTOLAB, as a group and also for the Colombian unit, is to support the exporters and the local market with high quality analysis within a short time. “When excellence is your standard” is the credo of FYTOLAB.
JUNA’s primary contact at FYTOLAB Colombia is Venezuelan-born Andrety Colmenarez, Head of Laboratory. Andrety is helping JUNA navigate the technical jargon of pesticides analysis and legislation and facilitates communication with JUNA’s agronomists who work with small farmers to control, standardize and minimize pesticide use in Colombia. The commercial relationship is handled by Milena Rico, who is also responsible for the marketing.