Egyptian agricultural crops are facing more difficulties in terms of tightening inspection procedures of the exported shipments. Countries of the European Union (EU) have decided to further enhance the procedures of examining citrus, while Saudi Arabia notes it may halt importing pomegranate after halting guava exports due to pesticide residues.
The European Commission has sent a letter to the Central Administration of the Egyptian Agriculture Quarantine Authority to notify it about the EU countries’ tightening of procedures on the importation of Egyptian citrus through increasing the inspection rates by three times in order to detect and deal with any violations that harm the agricultural areas with plant diseases.
Sources in the Central Administration of the Egyptian Agricultural Quarantine Authority told Daily News Egypt that the decision will not only be imposed in Egypt, but will also include many countries that export agricultural crops to Europe.
The sources explained that the inspection rates before the tightened procedures covered 25% of the containers in each shipment, and the commission has increased this percentage to 100%.
The source noted that the European Commission will start implementing the decision in early February and the work will continue until late 2018, according to the letter of the General Administration for Health and Phytosanitary Health in the European Commission to the Egyptian Agricultural Quarantine Authority.
The commission predicted holding reviews for each country included in the inspection rate increase in 2018 until it is decided to either follow the new decision or not.
Exporters of citrus said that the decision of the European Commission is precautionary and came as a result of its fear for southern countries of the union of the harm of stoneflies.
Ali Eissa, former head of the Agriculture Export Council, said that the decision is imposed on many other countries besides Egypt, and most of these countries are in Africa. However, it is applied to different products in each country.
Eissa explained that Spain, Italy, and Greece cultivate wide areas of citrus fruits, and the decision came to protect them from stoneflies, especially fruit flies. European countries together receive about 220,000 tonnes of Egyptian citrus every year.
A source in the Export Council said that the decision will not impact the current and future contracts, especially that there have been no complaints about crops throughout the past season. However, strict rules must be imposed on exporters in order to adhere to the specifications required by each country.
The Saudi Environment Ministry has complained about receiving large shipments of Egyptian pomegranate that have pesticide residues in them. It has also threatened to ban receiving it if this issue continues, creating a similar situation to the one that took place when guava importation was halted last week for the same reason.
Sherif Beltagy, member of the Export Council, said that in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the sector is seeking to establish a system of export crops that comply with the specifications required by each target country.
Beltagy explained that the EU countries reduced the inspection rates on grape crops at the beginning of this season. In addition, there were no complaints filed to it during the past seasons. It seeks to add the largest number possible of crops into the system.
He pointed out that agricultural crops have witnessed the entrance of a large number of exporters since the flotation of the Egyptian pound in November 2016; some of them are unregistered in the council, and no one knows the methods they follow in conducting their businesses.