KOCHI: Call it a New Year gift from the European Union. Much to the delight of all parties involved, the EU has lifted the ban imposed on the export of taro, bitter gourd, snake gourd and eggplant from the country. Now, the CIAL authorities, in particular, can afford a full-hearted chuckle. The Kochi airport is the second largest exporter of vegetables and fruits from India after Mumbai airport.
Prakash Rao, assistant director, plant quarantine section (export/import), Union Agriculture Ministry, said the ban on four vegetables from the country was lifted this month. He said the farmers and cargo exporters were now allowed to export vegetables and fruits to the EU.
The four vegetables and mango were banned by the EU in May 2014 for a period of 20 months following the detection of fruit flies in some consignments. The ban on mango was lifted in January 2015. “The export of these four vegetables can be carried out only by complying with the guidelines issued by the 28-member EU bloc. There will be strict monitoring and in-house certification is required for the export of perishable goods,” he said. An EU delegation had recently inspected farms and pack houses in India.
The Union Ministry has also made pack-house certification by the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) mandatory. Gopalakrishnan Nair, the proprietor of Geekey International Exports Imports and Trade, Mumbai, said the ban had its own effect on farmers/exporters and dented the goodwill towards Indian products in the EU.
But he said the overall impact was minimal because the annual export of these four vegetables accounts for less than 5 percent of India’s total farm exports to the EU - approximately $1.9 million. Experts, however, said the EU accounts for more than 50 per cent of the total exports of fruits and vegetables from the country. The UK, followed by the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium are some of the major destinations of Indian exporters in the EU.
According to CIAL officials, their cargo section has exported 55,132 tonnes of various vegetables and fruits to different destinations - mainly to West Asia - in the 2015- 16 fiscal even after the EU ban. The CIAL has also exported 63,095 tonnes of cargo to various destinations in 2015-16 and netted a revenue of Rs 19.34 crore. They said the vegetables and fruits accounted nearly 80 percent of the total cargo exports.