VN to better control fruit, vegetable exports
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The Ministry of Agriculture has asked the Plant Protection Department to step up inspections of fruits and vegetables exported to Europe following complaints from buyers.
The Executive Agency for Health and Consumers of the European Commission recently announced that the EU would issue a ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Vietnam if 5 more cases violating regulations on food safety and plant quarantine were detected.
A lot of fruits and vegetables exported to the EU have been found to be infected with microorganism and pest, the ministry said.
“If this situation happens, not only Vietnam’s fruits and vegetables will be banned in the EU but the prestige of Vietnam’s agro-products on the international market will also be severely damaged,” the ministry said.
Meanwhile, the Plant Protection Department said it would promote the inspection of fresh fruits and vegetables exported to the EU and issue guidelines to localities and exporters to ensure their products are qualified for export to Europe.
The Plant Protection Department is also required to only allow exports of qualified shipments in accordance with the above regulations.
The agriculture ministry has instructed customs agencies to make clearance for only those consignments having the Phytosanitary Certificate granted by plant quarantine agencies.
“The EU’s demand for stopping imports of fruits and vegetables from Vietnam if there are 5 more violating cases is very difficult to meet,” said Nguyen Van Nga, head of the Zone 2 Plant Quarantine Inspection Department.
Currently, the department only inspects goods by the sampling method, meaning that it only inspects 2 or 3 out of 100 batches, so the probability to miss out unqualified batches is very high.
“To solve the problem thoroughly, it is recommended to apply regulations on safe vegetable production in line with VietGap or GlobalGap,” Nga said.
Nga added that Vietnam currently exported few vegetables to the EU, but exports of fruits like grapefruit, rambutan, mangoes and star-apples are very substantial. Therefore, if the EU imposes the ban, the loss to Vietnam is very high.
“We should restrict exports of some items with high risks of not meeting the standard to avoid big losses to the domestic fruit and vegetable industry,” Nga said.
Preliminary data released by the General Department of Vietnam Customs show that in the first half of January, Vietnam’s exports of fruits and vegetables totaled US$22.6 million.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development projects exports of fruits and vegetables in 2012 to reach $650 million, a year-on-year rise of 4.4 percent.