EU rejects three okra consignments from India
Dec. 2, 2010
The European Union (EU) has rejected three consignments of bhindi (okra or ladys finger) from India this year as they contained pesticide residues higher than the prescribed limits. In addition, the EU has issued notices on the presence of residues in four other consignments of bhindi and one consignment of drumstick (moringa). Higher levels of monocrotophos, acephate and triazaphos residues were found in these consignments. The EU has a tolerance limit of 0.05 mg/kg for monotcrotophos residue in bhindi, while for acephate and triazophos, the maximum residue limit is 0.02 mg/kg and 0.01 mg/kg respectively.
In the consignment that was rejected on November 10, the monocrotophos residue level was 0.13 mg/kg and that of acephate 0.13 mg/kg. In a consignment that was rejected on February 17, the presence of triazophos was found to be 0.11 mg/kg. Monocrotophos has been found toxic to birds and humans. All the three pesticides can cause excessive sweating, headache, weakness, giddiness, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, difficulties in breathing and cardiac problems.
Bhindi makes up a significant part of fresh vegetable exports from the country, though officials are unable to give an exact figure. During 2009-10, 4.19 lakh tonnes of vegetables valued at Rs 731 crore were exported against 5.05 lakh tonnes valued at Rs 680 crore in 2008-09. “Bhindi is exported for Indians abroad. It is quite a popular vegetable with them,” said Mr S. Dave, Director of the Agricultural and Processed Food Exports Development Authority (Apeda).
The problem with bhindi exports, according to officials, is that it is not easy to monitor the supply chain since it is too fragmented and the material comes from different parts of the country. “It is difficult to keep track and trace back the problem,” said an exporter. When asked about this, Mr Dave said that Apeda had held a meeting with exporters with regard to the issue and a plan is being worked out to monitor vegetable exports.
"Basically, these vegetables are sourced from mandis for exports. But traders wont know for what the vegetables are being bought and the problems in them,” said Mr Dave. “The Commerce Ministry is looking at some sort of grading in the supply chain so that exporters will ship out only good agricultural products,” he said.
A trader said that the Centre had asked the EU to relax its tolerance level for pesticide level standards. “A request has gone to raise the level from 0.01 mg/kg but nothing has happened. We are looking at a level of 0.05 mg/kg,” the source said. Besides vegetables, other commodities that have come under scrutiny are fruits and raisins. In the case of raisins, a consignment was rejected on September 20 as the presence of dead insects, sticks and stones were found in it.
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