LAHORE: Pakistan’s mango exports to the European Union (EU) markets are expected to start from this week after the Directorate of Plant Protection (DPP) ‘temporarily’ waived the requirement of getting the MRL (maximum residual level) tests of the (exporting) orchards done prior to shipment of their consignments.
“We have informed the exporters that they can start shipping their consignments to the EU countries without the MRL tests,” DPP Director General Mubarak Ahmed told Dawn by phone on Tuesday.
But he clarified that only those consignments would be allowed to be shipped that have been procured from the registered orchards.
The DPP has so far registered 40-50 orchards in Sindh, where the harvest starts in May.
The mango farms in Punjab will be registered after the harvest starts over the next few weeks.
The DPP DG was certain that the registered farmers would easily clear the MRL tests.
“We have registered only those farms where the quantity of the chemicals sprayed was within the limits prescribed by the tough EU food safety regulations,” he said.
If any orchard fails to clear the MRL test, the DPP DG said, it would be immediately stopped from exporting because the breach of the food safety standards of importing countries could jeopardise the entire mango exports from Pakistan.
He said the exporters had been allowed to start shipping their export consignments without MRL tests because the facility to conduct the required MRL tests would not become available anywhere in the country until another week or so. “We don’t want the exporters to suffer (losses) because of the delays in order delivery.”
Last year, the EU had placed ban on mango imports from India after consignments from there were found to be contaminated by fruit fly. The ban on India’s sweet yellow fruit had greatly helped Pakistan boost its exports to Europe.
Pakistan’s mango exports rose to 93,000 tonnes last summer. This year the exports are projected to increase above 100,000 tonnes.
Shoaib Sheikh, a Lahore-based fruit and vegetables exporter, was critical of the government for not making timely arrangement for the MRL tests.
“I wonder if the DPP and the food ministry were sleeping during the last six months. Mango exports this year started from May 20, but the late decision by the DPP on the MRL waiver has already cost us a delay of seven days in the EU markets.”
He said the DPP’s decision to register only a handful of orchards for EU had already triggered a sudden rise in the mango prices in Sindh.
Syed Hasnain Ashar Ashi, President of the All Importers Association in Norway, advised the Pakistani authorities to ensure that all snags in the way of mango exports to the EU were removed without further loss of time.
“They must realise that the delay in the delivery of shipments to the stores and retail chains in the EU countries is as harmful for Pakistani mango exports as fruit fly or any other pest,” he told Dawn from Oslo by phone.
“It is not Pakistan; importers in the EU are bound under written agreements to honour their commitments or risk getting penalised heavily.”
Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2015