Russia, Sri Lanka halt Indian grape imports over pest certificate
Posted on February 22nd, 2019

Grape exporters in the country are in a tight spot in the middle of the season with Russia and Sri Lanka demanding pest-free area certificates. According to exporters, containers from India are lying uncleared for the past couple of weeks in the port of St Petersburg in Russia.

Russia, Sri Lanka halt Indian grape imports over pest certificateRussia, Sri Lanka halt Indian grape imports over pest certificate

Grape exporters in the country are in a tight spot in the middle of the season with Russia and Sri Lanka demanding pest-free area certificates. According to exporters, containers from India are lying uncleared for the past couple of weeks in the port of St Petersburg in Russia.

Jagannath Khapre, president, All India Grape Exporters Association, said plant quarantine issues had been raised by Russia and Sri Lanka, and both the countries had asked for declaration of the entire area as pest-free.

The Association is in touch with the National Research Centre for Grapes (NRC), seeking these certificates so that the season is not impacted.

Kailash Bhosale, treasurer, Maharashtra Grape Growers Association, said he along with Khapre and Ashok Gaikwad, president of the Association, were in Delhi last week to seek a solution to this issue.

The government of Russia has not issued any such notification. But, the containers from India are being stopped by Russia’s customs department, stating that a pest-free area certificate is required. We met officials from Apeda (Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority), agriculture department and the quarantine department. However, we were told by the officials of the Quarantine Department that a NRC from Pune needs to issue documentation in this regard,” said Bhosale.

He said they were later told that the Maharashtra Agriculture Department needs to issue the certificate. We have been following up with NRC and the state agriculture department but things are moving very slowly in the Centre. And, this is not only impacting exports but prices have also fallen.” Bhosale said the team would be back in Delhi on Monday to seek a follow-up.

Russia is among the largest importers of grapes. Last year, grape exports grew 18.19% and Russia contributed 15% to the country’s exports of the fruit.

But, this year, the Russian plant quarantine division has slowed down export, citing technological reasons without giving any prior notice, some of the exporters said. The Russian customs department is said to have been demanding a pest-free area certificate. In contrast, containers in South Africa are cleared within two-three days.

The ministry of commerce of India needs to negotiate with the Russian government and compromise. Therefore, it is necessary to take immediate action,” Bhosale said.

Earlier, Sri Lanka had rejected the permit for India grapes by seeking a pest-free area certificate, cutting exports to the country as well. If an important and major importer like Russia shuts doors on India, there is a possibility of a big setback on the market. The delay could hit export of nearly 2,000 tonne.
When contacted, NRC director SD Sawant said he had recieved requests from several quarters on this issue.

Bhosale said a formal mail is required to be sent by the quarantine department of Delhi to NRC and a mail is still awaited. A follow-up would be taken on February 25 in Delhi, he said.

India is currently on track for a record export year with a projected 11% increase in volume for the April 2018-March 2019.

So far, some 42,458 tonne of grapes have been exported. This includes 25,106 tonne to Netherlands, 7,233 tonne to Germany, 5,753 tonne to UK and 1,171 tonnes to Denmark. Exports to Europe and UK were on track, Khapre said. While Sri Lanka is a minor destination for Indian table grapes, Russia takes good volumes and last year had imported 27,434 tonne.

The previous record high was 198,471 tonne in 2016-17. Last year, India exported 188,221 tonne, according to Apeda data.

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