With Saudi Arabia lifting the seven-month ban on the import of Indian green chillies, exports from the country are expected to begin next week onwards. Exporters expect to ship out at least around 2,000 tonne to the country soon, top officials from the Maharashtra State Agriculture Marketing Board ( MSAMB) said.
Saudi Arabia, the fifth largest importer of fresh vegetables from India, had banned the import of green chillies because of the presence of high pesticide residues. The ban had been announced on the grounds that high levels of pesticides were found in some shipments of the commodity. India usually exports around 40,000 tonne of the commodity, of which Saudi Arabia accounts for some 2000 tonne, top officials said.
Milind Akare, MD, MSAMB, said the ban had been lifted following an inspection by a delegation from Saudi Arabia last October to pack houses in the country and laboratories run by APEDA, as well as field visits to farms. APEDA and MSAMB had made special efforts towards ensuring the ban is lifted, he said.
Maharashtra is one of the largest exporters of green chillies. Of the 40,000 tonnes of exports, around 30,000 tonnes comes from Maharashtra, he added.
The Arab nation had imported 3,045 tonne of Indian green chilli, valued at $2.33 million, in 2013-14. Thereafter, the volume of shipments began declining. Saudi Arabia’s phytosanitary authority had set quality specification of European standard for allowing import of green chilli from India.
India exports green chillies to UAE, Qatar and UK. Of the Rs 140 crore business in green chillies, around Rs 15 crore comes from Saudi Arabia, he said. More than the volume of business, such bans usually send out negative sentiments in international markets and therefore lifting of such bans is important, he said.
APEDA has advised exporters to follow the strict guidelines set by Saudi Arabia to start exports of green chilli. Data collated by Apeda showed a 31 per cent decline in exports of green chilli from India in the financial year 2014-15, at 32,138.19 tonnes, as compared to 46,540.15 tonnes in the previous year. Despite such a steep decline in volume terms, shipments in value term recorded only a marginal decline at $22.23 million in
2014-15 as against $22.96 million in the previous year. In 2012-13, however, India’s green chilli exports were recorded at 35,991.97 tonnes, worth $16.82 million.
With 1,266.69 tonnes, worth $0.85 million, Saudi Arabia slipped to the fourth position in terms of green chilli exports from India in 2014-15 only after the UAE (19,561.56 tonnes worth
$13.73 million), UK (2,244.02 tonnes, $2.63 million) and Qatar (2,344.89 tonnes worth $1.57 million).