UAE has finally lifted its 40-day quarantine on fruit and vegetable exports from Kerala, but the exporters are yet to get an official clean chit. Without the plant quarantine certification, the export of food commodities to UAE is not possible.
According to a statement by the UAE ministry of climate change and environment, “Shipments of the fresh vegetables and fruits from Kerala should be attached with a certificate confirming that they are free from infection with the virus.”
While the airline companies communicated the lifting of the ban on Wednesday, the fruit and vegetable exporting firms are yet to receive any communication on the necessary plant quarantine certification.
Kerala is fast getting back to normalcy after its northern districts suffered an outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus. Although the outbreak was effectively contained, after a death toll of 17, ICMR has confirmed that the disease was brought in by fruit-eating bats. UAE had banned the export of greens from Kerala, in the wake of Nipah.
“Although the virus has been wiped out, it is hardly business as usual so far for the fruits and vegetable exports from India,” Dil Koshy, secretary of Agricultural Products and Processed Food Exporters Association (APPEXA) told FE. First, the entire Kerala had to take the ban, although the outbreak was restricted to two northern districts. Second, the 40-days ban also wiped out the entire Ramadan season export of plantains and pineapples to Gulf.
UAE alone had bought more than $326 million worth of fruits in the first 11 months of the last financial year. Kerala exports 120 tonne of vegetables and fruits per day through its three airports. Plantains account for as much as 70% of the fruit exports.
Considering that fruits and vegetables worth `1.75 crore are exported to Gulf from Kerala every day, the 40-days quarantine is estimated to have caused about `40 crore losses in exports. If there is delay in getting plant quarantine certification from UAE, the losses are likely to be more worrying, says Dil Koshy.