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Qatar’s public health ministry lifts ban on import of veg from Kerala
Friday, 07 September, 2018, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
Qatar’s ministry of public health has lifted the ban on the import of fruits and vegetables from the southern Indian state of Kerala.

The development came close on the heels of the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) lifting of the ban, which was imposed during the Nipah virus (NiV) outbreak.

India’s Export Inspection Council was notified of the permission granted to Kerala to import fresh, chilled and frozen vegetables and fruits via a letter from the department of food safety and environmental health of the Middle-Eastern nation’s public health ministry.

In the letter, Wasan Abdullah Al Baker of the aforementioned department informed Indian authorities that the ban had been lifted after the clearance had been obtained on the reports on the ending of the Nipah epidemic.

He added, “After examining, following up and verifying the stability of the epidemiological situation based on official health reports, the Joint Committee on Human Food Control has decided to lift the ban due to the disappearance of the virus and permit the import.”

The letter added that the ban had been lifted keeping in mind the interests of bilateral relations between the Middle-Eastern nation and India in the field of food safety and facilitation of food trade.

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) also received a similar communication from the Embassy of the State of Qatar, New Delhi, notifying it of the decision by the Joint Committee on Human Food Control to lift the ban.

UAE’s ban

Last year, the UAE emerged as the largest importer of Indian mangoes, with a share of over 50 per cent of the total mango exports from India.

According to APEDA, India exported mangoes worth about $37.48 million to the country in 2016-17. Between April and June 2018, it exported mangoes worth approximately $18.83 million.

In May 2018, the UAE imposed a ban on the import of fruits from the southern Indian state, based on information on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website regarding the registration of an outbreak of the Nipah virus.

The main host of this disease is the fruit bat, where the virus is transmitted through secretions from the bat to the fruit it feeds on or touches.

WHO’s website also reported the outbreak of the first NiV disease in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. Within nine days, there were 12 suspected cases, 16 confirmed cases and 14 deaths. Kozhikode was one of the two most affected districts, the other being Mallapuram.
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