A change in regulations on pesticide residue levels in grapes proposed by the European Union (EU) is likely to pose problems for the export of Indian grape to these countries in the coming season.
The EU has proposed to bring down residue levels of chlormequat chloride (CCL), a plant growth regulator, from the existing levels of 0.05 ppm (papers per million ) to 0.01 ppm soon.
Top officials of the Maximum Residue Level (MRL) Committee met in Pune, along with senior officials of the Union commerce department, APEDA at the National Research Centre for Grapes, has decided to approach the EU to file a say on behalf of Indian exporters, senior officials said.
In 2010, Indian grape exports faced a setback, with EU reluctant to accept Indian table grape consignments as chlormequat chloride — a plant growth regulator — was detected in excess of the prescribed maximum residue level (MRL).
In 2009, EU had come up with new regulations on pesticides, raising the chemicals to be monitored from 98 to 167.
Unaware of the changed rules, Indian exporters who did not meet the new standards faced had rejection. Although only less than 10% of the total export volumes were rejected, the issue has escalated into a big one, going by the worry writ large on the face of both European delegates and Indian grape exporters.
Indian grapes began to find favour after 2014 when a 1.92 lakh tonne of grapes were exported by Indian traders to around 94 countries. Of this Europe and the UK together accounted for the largest share of 65,000 tonnes.
According to Jagannath Khapre, president, All India Grape Exports Association who was also present for the meet, it was decided at the meeting to seek a five-year period from EU to ensure that the existing residue levels in the soil completely go down.
CCL as a chemical is not hazardous and is used by grape farmers as a plant growth regulator, he explained. The European Food Safety Authority has also prescribed 1.06 ppm as a safe level and the existing European regulations state that the residue levels should be around 0.05 ppm, he explained.
The detection machines with EU until now have been able to detect pesticides to the level of 0.05 ppm and with advanced technology can now detect up to 0.01 ppm, he said.
A decision has been taken to present the relevant documents before the European Union authorities and seek a status quo on the existing levels, he said.
Khapre said the EU had proposed the changes in the regulation in June and as soon as it came to the notice of the association and other industry people, they approached the commerce ministry that responded by sending officials to understand the situation.
Around 60,000 tonne was exported to EU for the 2015-16 season. Canada has granted market access for the Indian fresh grapes. This follows the recent Indo-Canadian bilateral discussions held in New Delhi.
However, the Indian exporters will be able to take advantage of this development only from the next season. Canada will open a new market for the Indian exporters, who have been mainly shipping the fresh grapes to European countries.
But Canada has imposed conditions that exporters have to register the vineyards and pack houses, and maintain traceability.
The Netherlands is the largest buyer of Indian fresh grapes, accounting for more than half of the exports, followed by the UK and Germany.
Source: - Financialexpress.com