Russia like to see the steps being taken in Sri Lanka to secure  safety of tea intended for export to Russia before removal of the restriction.
Posted on December 20th, 2017

Reporting from Moscow

Russia’s agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection  authority “Rosselkhoznadzor” demanded that preventive steps should be taken in Sri Lanka to secure the safety of tea intended for export to Russia before further discussion on restricted tea imports from Sri Lanka at the end of December, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

Russia’s agriculture safety authority Rosselkhoznadzor  issued red notice  and placed temporary restrictions on imports of tea and all other agricultural products from Sri Lanka from Dec. 18 after a insect known as the Khapra beetle was found in a tea consignment.

The representatives of the safety authority “Rosselkhoznadzor”   met a delegation led by Sri Lanka’s ambassador to Russia in Moscow on Tuesday and officially informed of authority’s decision.

Russia was the second largest buyer of Sri Lanka’s Ceylon tea after Iran and Sri Lankan tea accounts for 23 percent of the Russian market, with other supplies coming from India, Kenya, China and Vietnam,

In 2016 Russia purchased $143 million worth of, tea  according to Sri Lanka’s Industry Ministry

The insect, known as the Khapra beetle, was discovered in the packaging of the consignment of tea from Sri Lanka, which was responded by Sri Lankan authority as  an isolated case and that it would work with the Russian authorities to resolve the issue.

In July 30 2011 similar incident reported in USA. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has enforced a similar federal quarantine order that restricts the importation of rice into the U.S. from countries with known Khapra beetle infestations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), equivalent of “Rosselkhoznadzor” in Russia,  has  restricted the importation of rice from countries known to have Khapra beetle due to an increasing number of detections at U.S. ports of entry of infested shipments of rice from these countries. The introduction and establishment of Khapra beetle (Trogoderma granarium) into the U.S. poses a serious threat to stored agricultural products, including spices, grains and packaged foods.

This Khapra beetle larvae was found as Los Angeles International Airport in a container of rice included in personal effects being imported earlier this year.

According to APHIS, previous detections of Khapra beetle have resulted in massive, long term-control and eradication efforts at great cost to the American taxpayer. Established infestations are difficult to control because the beetle can survive without food for long periods of time, requires little moisture, hides in tiny cracks and crevices, and is relatively resistant to many insecticides and fumigants.

This year, CBP agriculture specialists have made 100 Khapra beetle interceptions at U.S. ports of entry compared to three to six per year in 2005 and 2006, and averaging about 15 per year from 2007 to 2009.

As the information on temporary restrictions were reached in Colombo, instead of taking a series of corrective actions, President Maithripala Sirisena immediately urged Sri Lankan tea farmers not to panic and he himself tried to play a typical Sri Lankan political gimmick by sending a personal letter to President Putin seeking his influence, politically, to lift the ban.

Mr Sirisena told a rally on Sunday that he was optimistic that as a friendly country”, Russia would help Sri Lanka and insisted that a thorough investigation will be carried out and  punitive measures will be taken against anyone found guilty of tampering with its consignment but without a word on  investigating the spread of Khapra beetle.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman Dr. Rohan Pethiyagoda, a political appointee who has absolutely no clue on tea export, but well experienced taxonomist  worked at an  Australian Museum, imported from Australia after Yahapalanaya government,  told local newspaper We will not take any action against the exporter as the beetle was not found in the tea consignment but, instead within the container outside the tea packages, (A taxonomist is a biologist that groups organisms into categories.)

He was responding to questions from Ceylon Today on whether the future operations of the exporter is to be outlawed since the incident had brought disrepute to the export trading sector and the country.

Pethiyagoda also explained that these containers travel around the world and that it could have happened to any exporter. It has been confirmed that the beetle was not inside the tea packets and therefore no charges could be brought against the exporter, Dr. Pethiyagoda further said.

We are seeking to meet with the Russian Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Tkacev Gaffe and Plantation Industries Minister Navin Dissanayake will be tasked to head the delegation at the talks”, he added.

The delegation will also include officials from the Tea Research Institute and the Agriculture Ministry.

He also added that the private sector component was not relevant at the talks.

Hence, the Tea industry in Sri Lanka is the unfortunate victim of a political corruption, Nepotism and cronyism.

In Russia Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance is the federal organ of executive power, carrying out functions on control and supervision in the field of veterinary science. It establishes and lifts phytosanitary quarantine zones , it controls the use of pesticides and agrochemicals, it maintains soil fertility, it is responsible for selection achievements, protection, reproduction and use of objects of animal world (hunting resources) and aquatic biological resources, and it also carries out the functions on protecting the population from animal infectious diseases.

Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance submits to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation.

Can our politicians and imported taxonomist as Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman convince Russia’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service authority Rosselkhoznadzor, before end of December, that we have introduced necessary measures to prevent reoccurrence of the same problem in future.

God help Sri Lanka

7 Responses to “Russia like to see the steps being taken in Sri Lanka to secure  safety of tea intended for export to Russia before removal of the restriction.”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    We had an imported Central Bank Governor earlier … ha ha

    God bless our exports!!

  2. dhane Says:

    Sri Lanka is famous to import personalities from oversea. 1st Central Bank robbed by the Imported Governor. 2nd Gas Company Chairman & Presidential Election Common Candidate Political Party head robbed Taiwan Bank and Transferred money to a local Bank. 3rd imported taxonomist as Sri Lanka Tea Board Chairman ruined over 100 years old Tea Export Market. Former Finance Minister got apartment rental paid by son-in law of imported CB Governor. Ha Ha God bless our country & Yahapalanaya. Even the God does not know what will left over after 2020???/

  3. Senerath Says:

    “In July 30 2011 similar incident reported in USA. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has enforced a similar federal quarantine order that restricts the importation of rice into the U.S. from countries with known Khapra beetle infestations.”

    If some Sri lankans in USA were aware of this, my suspicion grows even higher. If these consignments go around the world , so easy to find some one to insert these insects somewhere in a warehouse. Surely this is sabotage work and stupid govenrment as ususal do nothing and see whether it cure by itself. It will not. Same thing with UN accusations, we said nothing wrong, everything good without doing any investigation.

  4. Dharmasiri Weerasinghe Says:

    Kenya wants to use the current tea trade spat — triggered by a single insect— between Russia and Sri-Lanka to boost its volumes to Moscow after years of low exports, the Kenya Daily Nation reported.

    Wire agencies reported on Friday that Russia would place temporary restrictions on imports of tea and all other agricultural products from Sri Lanka from Tuesday after a single beetle was found in a consignment.

    Tea directorate says it sees the current impasse between the two countries as an opportunity for Kenya to boost sales.

    “We see this as an opportunity and a challenge at the same time. An opportunity in the sense that we should use this chance to grow our volumes to Russia and also learn from the misfortune that befell Sri-Lanka to improve our standards,” said the directorate.

    The country has over the last one year been working on a strategy to improve the volumes of tea bought by Russia and cut the dominance of Sri Lanka, which is the leading exporter to Moscow.

    Kenyan delegation led by Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture will be visiting Moscow in January for the launch of the strategy.

    Kenya is, third placed, both in terms of value and volume of tea exports to Russia.

    Moscow imports about 13 per cent of the beverage from the Mombasa auction accounting for about 18 million kilos, but the volumes have been dropping in the last three years.

    “We are targeting to hit at least 44 million kilos of tea exported to Russia in the next three years mainly looking at increasing quality black tea,” said the directorate.

    It has hired Russian consultants to provide intelligence on the profile of a Russian tea consumer and how best Kenya can reach its market.

    Kenya has identified and prioritised Russia because it is the leading importer of black tea while it is the leading exporter of the same.

    It will be tough for Kenya to win over the Russian market because Sri Lanka — being the biggest exporter of tea to Russia — has put in massive resources in the last 20 years to cement its position.

  5. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    Senerath

    There is no possibility of sabotage here. When the container is locked and sealed, then no one can get access to the content inside. Not only that the consignment is normally stored in air tight wooden boxes with an inner layer of aluminium foils. If the lock and seals are damaged then the inspection authority would have noticed, it.

    I have dealt with Russian Authorities before when I developed oil field in the arctic region. They are pretty sharp and no outside influence can change their decisions. In engineering, every design has to be certified by the authority before construction.

    Same way, the Health Inspection authority “Rosselkhoznadzor” had to do the random check on imports. Once insect is found they don’t give damn care about the number.

    Once they demand corrective action, they definitely want to see the proof of these actions duly implemented in black and white.

    With my experience of working with Russian authorities over 20 years, I don’t believe that these temporary restrictions on imports of tea and all other agricultural products from Sri Lanka are some sort of retaliatory action for banning import of Russian Asbestos to Sri Lanka.

  6. Senerath Says:

    dhramasiri,
    I have no Russian experiece which you have, so trust you are right.
    Ban of Blue Asbestos is still on, so that is a good thing although I heard there is no blue asebesto in Sri lanka anyway.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Russia is doing this NOT because of some INSECT or ASBESTOES! Get real people. Russia is doing this because our UNP govt. is ANTI-PUTIN and a US COLONY – a new US military base is constructed in SL.

    Write to Putin and other Russian leaders and ask them NOT to allow SL tea until SL deals with USA on MILITARY matter end. Write to them please. This is your chance. After that do NOT complain. USA ALWAYS supports UNP.

    We can bring down the UNP and US interference in SL.

    IF US interference continues, there is NO CHANCE any patriotic party can EVER WIN. Understand this.

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