EU threaten to ban vegetables from Bangladesh
A high official of the EU's Health and Consumers Directorate General in a recent letter written to Bangladesh ambassador in Belgium has set a deadline, September 30, for Dhaka to demonstrate major improvement in ensuring harmful organism-free exports of fruits and vegetables to the EU countries or face a ban.
While threatening with a ban on vegetable and fruit imports from Bangladesh, the EU has mentioned the interception of export consignments from Bangladesh carrying harmful organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi and other insects.
It has also been alleged that the relevant Bangladesh authorities failed to keep their pledge to implement their own action plans to ensure harmful organism-free export of vegetables and fruits to the EU. Furthermore, the EU official noted the inefficiencies in phytosanitary export control in Bangladesh. The government of Bangladesh, on receipt of the latest EU threat, has made a fresh pledge to implement various measures to ensure compliance with the EU requirements by June next.
Both the government officials and the exporters in Bangladesh are familiar with the reservation expressed by importing countries, particularly the EU, about frozen foods and vegetables.
The EU in the past had sent back a number of frozen food consignments to Bangladesh alleging contamination and arranged a number of visits of its experts to the food processing units in Bangladesh. Its experts had suggested measures for contamination-free frozen food exports to its member-countries.
In areas of frozen food exports, the situation has improved remarkably in view of the active interests taken by both the government and the relevant exporters to comply with the EU requirements. But in the case of vegetable and fruit exports, a similar initiative seems to be missing. Neither the plant protection department nor the association of vegetable exporters has given due importance to the dissatisfaction expressed by the EU over the export of vegetables carrying harmful organisms. ■