The Department of Plant Protection (DPP) has furthered tightened procedures for fruit exports to European countries after the second shipment of Pakistani mangoes to UK infested with fruit flies was intercepted.
According to the DPP notification, from now onwards all mango consignments bound for European countries will be cleared only from the DPP Karachi office. The regulatory powers of all other stations have been suspended since June 27, 2014. The new rules are also applicable to mango exports bound for Norway and Switzerland – both countries are not part of the EU. All mango shipments to these two countries will also get clearance from DPP’s Karachi office.
The decision was taken when UK authorities intercepted a Pakistani mango shipment on June 19, contaminated with fruit flies. The European Union (EU) authorities conveyed the information to DPP on June 27, 2014 and the top Pakistani authority issued a notification for all relevant Pakistani departments the same day.
DPP – one of the 14 organisations that work under the Ministry of National Food Security and Research – says that the said consignment was from the orchards of Tehsil and District Tando Allah Yar, Sindh. The consignment was exported to UK through Lahore airport by Awab enterprises, Lahore and was cleared by Plant Quarantine Office of DPP Lahore office.
To reduce the chances of fruit fly presence, DPP had already made hot water treatment (HWT) compulsory for all mango exporters wishing to export to the EU markets. That created problems for mango exporters since there are very few HWT facilities in the country.
After the first mango consignment interception on June 16, 2014, DPP notified on June 20 that it would not clear any shipment if it was not hot water treated. DPP, whose responsibility is to provide complete quarantine facilities to the fruit and vegetable growers, is under severe pressure from the EU that has already conveyed to the Pakistan government that it would slap a ban on its mango exports if it intercepts five contaminated consignments.
To avoid any blanket ban on Pakistani fruit and vegetable exports to the EU, DPP official said that the Pakistani government should take steps before any harsh action from the EU authorities.
Pakistani officials are cautious because the EU had recently banned the import of five types of fruits and vegetables from India over issues of the presence of pests and fruit flies in their shipments.
After stern warnings from the EU, DPP officials surveyed about 200 farms in Sindh and Punjab in June 2014 and granted clearance certificates to 11 farms in Sindh and 14 in Punjab. They asked exporters to buy mangoes from these farms if they want to export to the EU markets, as these farms are relatively better maintained and are least contaminated with fruit flies and other diseases.
The government departments have succeeded in tracing the origin of the mango farms whose consignments were intercepted in the EU, but they have failed to completely overcome the threat of fruit flies.
Exporters and government officials say that DPP officials are under pressure from powerful circles who want to clear their export consignments for the EU markets. People privy to the matter say DPP officials are deliberating a self-imposed ban on mango exports to the EU in case of another interception of a contaminated consignment.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2014.