Govt makes quarantine approval mandatory for fruits, veggies before export

Written by Sandip Das | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 10 2014, 10:57am hrs
Following the EU imposing a ban on import of mangoes and a few vegetables from India in May because of alleged presence of pesticides in consignments, the government has made it mandatory for these goods to get plant quarantine approval from 25 approved pack houses before they are exported.

As per the new norm, fruits and vegetables consignments destined for the EU will go through phytosanitary inspection at Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Agency's (Apeda) pack houses located across key cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, etc. The inspections are being carried out by officials from National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO).

The EU had a imposed ban on India's premium Alphonso mangoes, brinjal, bitter gourd, snake gourd and the taro plant by stating that it had found contamination of fruit fly and other quarantine pests in 207 consignments.

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An Apeda official said there has been serious concern about detection of pests and higher than permissible levels of pesticide residues in consignments shipped in the last couple of years. Due to enforcement of stringent quality norms, the export of fruits and vegetables in the first few months of the current fiscal has not declined sharply compared to last year, Santosh Sarangi, director, Apeda, told FE.

According to the latest data, India's exports of fruits and vegetables during

April-July 2014 declined marginally to R2,625 crore compared to R2,654 crore reported in the same period of the last fiscal. This is notwithstanding a ban on five fruits and vegetables imposed by the EU.

During 2013-14, India exported fruits and vegetables worth R8,760 crore, which comprised of fruits worth R3,298 crore and vegetables worth R5,462 crore.

Meanwhile, a team from EU's food and veterinary office (FVO) visited a number of Apeda-approved pack houses last month to ascertain the quality protocol being followed.

The FVO will write to each EU member about its findings before a final decision on lifting the ban on import of five fruits and vegetables from India is considered.

A Bangalore-based exporter said the EU is keen to take a 'relook' at the ban following demand from the trade community in Europe and efforts put in by the

government in the last couple of months.

The major destinations for Indian fruits and vegetables are UAE, Bangladesh, Malaysia, UK, Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Nepal.

Though India's share in the global market is still about 1% only, there is increasing acceptance of horticulture produce from the country.