Kuwait, a major importer of fresh vegetables from India, has banned the import of Indian chilies due to the presence of high pesticide residues in it. Though no direct notification of a ban has been conveyed to importers, retailers speak of customs officials banning Indian chili consignments. It is believed that the decision to ban the import of chili peppers was made after a sample testing of a recent consignment of Indian vegetables found the presence of higher than permissible levels of residues of pesticides in the chilies.
Following the ban, the Indian Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) advised exporters to adhere to importing country’s food safety requirements and sought the testing of products before they are exported. “As a region, West Asia is very important to us. We, therefore, do not want to face repercussions from any other country in the region. Hence, we have advised our members to test export oriented goods carefully before shipping,” an APEDA statement said.
The Indian Spices Board said chili peppers are one of India’s largest foreign currency earners, and, in the period between April and November 2013, over 205,500 tonnes of chili peppers were exported. Chili exports accounted for $306 million of the $1.6 billion in total spice exports from India during this period.
The APEDA, which believes the ban will be a setback for the continued growth of India's spices exports, called for harmonization of quality standards across countries under the CODEX system. In a statement APEDA said that countries may change the quality standards and specifications from time to time.
Pointing out that US, EU and other major importers of Indian spices, have different quality standards which are changed from time to time, a spokesman for India’s Spices Board said that rules are becoming more stringent from country to country. The US FDA administers surveillance programs to monitor for pesticide residues in spices.
EEC Countries, which constitute a major market for Indian Spices, import spices in accordance with prevailing food laws. The Netherlands have specifications for various quality parameters of spices and prescribes maximum residues for pesticides in spices. The German specifications are supposed to be the most stringent. The food industry and spice processers in U.K. follow the limit for pesticides prescribed in the German specifications in the absence of U.K. Specifications.
Times Kuwait Report