Failure in terms of quality control by Indian exporters led to the European Union imposing an 18-month ban on import of mangoes from the country, according to state minister for agriculture Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil. Patil said this failure was a result of a lack of coordination between central and state agencies.
Patil, who was speaking to media in Pune on Saturday, also said the quality control and certifying agencies of the central government were lax and were lacking in manpower.
“The state government has no direct role in quality control as it is with the central agencies like Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). However, we have realised that there is lack of the coordination which has led to the problem. Also we realised that the quality control agencies were severely understaffed,” he said.
The EU has banned the import of Indian fruits and vegetables as fruit flies were detected in 6 per cent of the samples. Proper hot water treatment or irradiation treatment is supposed to solve this problem. However, the only working irradiation treatment in the state is in Lasalgaon, which is used for mangoes to be exported to the US as well as onions. The second one was to come up in Navi Mumbai, but Patil mentioned that due to technical and other reasons, it would be operational only next year. Around 55,000 metric tonnes of mangoes is exported from India every year, of which 7 per cent is to EU countries.
“We had a series of meetings with APEDA and have asked them to help the Maharashtra State Agricultural Marketing Board (MSAMB) to upgrade our facilities. In this we have taken up proper quality control of the 2,200 packing houses which will help us avoid this problem in the years to come,” he said.
The state government is also to set up mango and vegetable nets to strengthen the backward linkages of the products. Patil said these two platforms would be developed on the lines of the grapenet, which has more than 27,000 grape farmers registered, which allows for traceability of the products.
Also, Patil mentioned that he has asked exporters to develop alternate markets for exports. “EU is just 7 per cent of the exports and their banning I think is a kneejerk reaction to other problems between the two countries,” he said.