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EU finds Indian curry leaves ‘problematic’; no plans to lift import ban
Saturday, 14 January, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Pushkar Oak, Mumbai
The European Union (EU) has no further plans to lift the ban on import of curry leaves, banned in the year 2013, citing the commodity as 'most problematic one' due to pesticide residue found in the consignments from India repeatedly.

In this regard, a statement from EU reads, thus, “The curry leaves is one of the most problematic commodity as the consignments were found contaminated with residues from pesticides used which has had a bad past record since the 2012 and until India improves its certification for curry leaves the ban will continue.”

Dr Arpita Mukherjee, professor, ICRIER, explains the situation, “The EU authorities have cited curry leaves as the most problematic one. Indian domestic market has a credible demand for the commodity which has not seriously affected the business of the commodity. To make exports more compliant, the EU has asked India to strengthen its certification so that safety and quality of the exports is ensured.”

Mukherjee added, “India has recently proposed for (agricultural marketing) Agmark certification for the commodity while both EU and India are still under talks to streamline the trade of the commodity. The commodities which were banned later in the year 2014 like those of eggplant, bitter and snake gourd and taro which will resume exports soon. Even they will have to certify for their quality and safety.”

Curry leaves account for a thin volume in the export portfolio of India and the high domestic demand restricts it to a big domestic market commodity.

The ban imposed by EU in the year 2013 was a result of pesticide residues found in the consignments of the commodity. Adding fuel to the fire, the consignments of the commodity sent from India to EU in the year 2014 as a trial run failed as they were detected with pesticide residue, making it one of the bothersome commodity for EU.

Need of certification to address concerns
Meanwhile, the ministry of commerce has initiated a study jointly with EU authorities, partially funded by EU authorities to generate insights on the trade between India and EU and repeated rejections of Indian products by EU. The study is currently being conducted by ICRIER and will provide details on making export laws stronger with mandatory certifications for the exports taking into consideration the related participatory government agency (PGA) who will be responsible for certifying the commodities belonging to each categories and making exports more compliant.

The ministry of commerce through Export Inspection Council (EIC) had started to check for certifications and also to educate exporters in this regard. A source from EIC said, “The council is now holding seminars and workshops for the new import and export systems with which the council is trying to educate exporters of fresh fruits and vegetables to get the needed certifications.”

Further, the new import and export systems at the points of entry will also have the mandatory provision of the certificates which will be produced by the related PGA based on the product for import or export and the country.
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