Saudi Arabia, the fifth-largest importer of fresh vegetables from India, has slapped a ban on the import of Indian chili due to the presence of high pesticide residues in it.Confirming the news, Surinder Bhagat, second secretary of politics and commerce at the Indian Embassy told the Arab News "We have been informed about the Saudi ministry of agriculture's decision to ban chili pepper beginning May 30 and are in touch with the Saudi authorities to resolve the issue".An agriculture ministry official said that the decision to ban the import of chili peppers was made after a sample testing of an Indian shipment found the presence of high level of pesticides."It has been brought to the attention of the authorities here that in recent vegetable consignments from India, there have been interceptions of higher than permissible levels of residues of pesticides," the ministry statement said."If the situation persists, the government of Saudi Arabia will take action in the near future," it added.Following the Saudi government statement, Indian Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) advised exporters to adhere to the this Gulf nation's import requirements and sought the testing of products before they are exported."As a region, West Asia is very important to us. We, therefore, do not want to face repercussions from Saudi Arabia, or any other country in the region. Hence, we have advised our members to test export oriented goods carefully before shipping," an APEDA statement said.
The Indian Spices Board said chili peppers are one of India's largest foreign currency earners, and, in the period between April and November 2013, 181,500 tonnes of chili peppers were exported for $3 million.The European Union (EU) has also temporarily banned the import of Alphonso mangoes and four other vegetables from India May 1. This decision made by the EU's standing committee on plant health came after 207 consignments of fruits and vegetables imported from India in 2013 were found to be contaminated with excessive pesticide residues.
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