Food safety inspectors in the UAE have discovered unacceptable levels of pesticides in some fruit and vegetables imported from India, according to a report in The National.
Following inspections by the Ministry for Climate Change and Environment, updated rules now force exporters to carry out new pesticide residue tests before the produce can be sold in the UAE.
According to India’s agricultural export development authority, it was informed by the ministry that Indian produce had pesticide levels exceeding “permitted limits in accordance with international standards".
The UAE therefore decided to refuse entry of chilli peppers, mangoes and cucumbers “without a residue analysis report with each consignment”.
S Insram Ali, president of the Mango Growers Association of India, told The National that UAE inspectors had also found calcium carbide in a shipment of mangoes. The chemical aids ripening, but is banned in many countries.
“Apart from this, Indian farmers commonly use large amounts of synthetic pesticide in their farming as they cannot afford organic pesticide, which is very expensive here," he added.
He suggested that it could be a challenge for many Indian growers and exporters to obtain the new safety certificates, hinting that exports might fall for some time as a result.
“UAE consumers are our biggest market and we would never want to leave it," he said. “Understanding and following new rules may hurt exports for some time but eventually we will do our best to remain the largest mango supplier to the UAE."
The UAE has been the biggest importer of Indian mangoes and onions since 2014, and is in the top four overall markets for Indian produce exporters.