Agri Business

MBS visit: Kerala farm exporters hopeful of negotiating end to ban

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on February 19, 2019 Published on February 19, 2019

Saudi Arabia had banned import of fruits, vegetables from State after Nipah outbreak

Kerala’s horticulture exporters are pinning their hopes on the visit of Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India for an end to the restrictions on the import of fruits and vegetables and cardamom by that country.

Last year’s Nipah virus outbreak had forced Saudi Arabia to ban fruits and vegetables from Kerala. Tighter checks on pesticides had also hit cardamom exports.

PE Ashraf Ali of Pomona Exports, Kozhikode, said that the Nipah virus infection has been controlled fully and all the Gulf countries have lifted the ban except Saudi Arabia.

Despite surging demand for vegetable and fruits from Kerala, the flights to various Saudi destinations are not accepting any cargo from Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram airports directly.

However, similar consignments can be moved easily from other States as bonded cargo, which, however, adds to the cost of the commodity. The business of local exporters has also been affected.

“We have taken up the matter through Shashi Tharoor, MP, with diplomatic officials, the embassy and Saudi Arabia’s ministry concerned to reinstate the shipments from the three airports in Kerala,” Ali told BusinesLine.

Big business

Kerala ships around 150 tonnes of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to gulf nations. Of this, 30-40 tonnes go to Saudi Arabia with a value of $64,000 per day. However, the restrictions have forced many exporters to move their consignments either to Coimbatore or Bengaluru to meet their export obligations.

On cardamom shipments, an exporter pointed out that tightening norms on pesticide residue from last April have slowed down exports to Saudi Arabia, which accounts for 90 per cent of cardamom consignments from India.

Cardamom exports last year stood at around 5,000 tonnes, at a value of less than ₹10 crore, and Saudi Arabia was the single largest destination.

Published on February 19, 2019
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