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Special packaging houses for exporting mangoes to EU

In an effort to meet the European standards, the government has set up “special pack-houses” for exporting mangoes to the region. Earlier this week, European Union had lifted the ban and allowed import of Indian mangoes.

The pack-houses would also manage exports of vegetables and other fruits to the region. EU is yet to take a call on lifting ban on exports of some vegetables from India.

The ministry of commerce and industry with the help of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) has set up 26 of such pack-houses that will follow separate sanitary and phytosanitary standards.

These pack-houses will follow strict quarantine measures and will be meant exclusively for packaging and labeling fresh fruits and vegetable that are destined for EU and other key international destinations, an official told Business Standard.

“These are specially APEDA registered pack-houses and mangoes packaged and labeled here will only head for EU. So far, we have registered 26 of such warehouses. EU has appreciated this,” the official said.

At the end of last year, the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the European Commission had sent an audit team to India to verify improvement in testing procedures, plant health controls and certification system after the ban was imposed last year.

Post the visit, FVO had sent a draft proposal with certain queries to the National Plant Protection Authority (NPPA), indicating that the ban will be lifted by 2015.

With effect from May last year, EU banned import of Alphonso mangoes and four vegetables from India. It said that the shipments would be discontinued unless they are specially treated to reduce the risk of fruit fly infestation.

Among other measures undertaken by India are enhancement of capacity and numbers of inspecting staff and improvement in infrastructure, implementation of a standard operating procedure to guarantee safe exports.

Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently said India has not only informed EU regarding implementation of these control systems but also formally conveyed the government’s disagreement on the temporary restriction imposed by EU.

In 2013-14, India exported mangoes worth Rs 5,022 lakh (3,933 tonnes) as against Rs 3,559 lakh in 2012-13 (3,890 tonnes).

EU is yet to lift a ban on imports of bitter gourd, egg plant, snake gourd and taro leaves from India. The ban was imposed last year on grounds of interceptions of harmful organisms leading to fears on account of biosecurity of the region.

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