Saudi Arabia lifts export ban on fruits and vegetable from Kerala

  • 29-May-2019
  • Saudi Arabia lifts export ban on fruits and vegetable from Kerala

Kerala's fruits and vegetable exporters have heaved a sigh of relief following the lifting of the export ban by Saudi Arabia after the Nipah virus attack last year.

P.E. Ashraf Ali of Pomona Exports, Kozhikode, told BusinessLine that they have received a communication in this regard from the Saudi Arabian authorities during the second week of May that has led to the commencement of direct exports from the three airports in the State. Saudi Arabia is one of the major export market of fruits and vegetables from Kerala and the presence of large floating population ensures a good volume of business from there.

With the lifting of the embargo, he said Kozhikode airport was alone handling 20 tonnes of fruits and vegetables per day valued at $50,000 to various destinations in Saudi. A similar proportion has also been moving from the other two airports of Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram to Dammam, Riyadh and Jeddah airports. Currently, mangoes such as Alphonso, Banganapalle are the major items in the export basket, followed by banana and pineapple.

Kerala ships around 150 tonnes of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to various gulf countries and of this, the consignment to Saudi alone was 30-40 tonnes. With the easing of restrictions, exporters are now looking at increasing the quantity of exports to 200 tonnes this year. “We are receiving more export enquiries from European countries, Japan, New Zealand, Korea etc especially for the shipments of fruits”, Ali said.

It may be recalled that all the Gulf nations had imposed the ban in May last year following Nipah virus outbreak. Though all the GCC nations later lifted the restrictions within two months, Saudi Arabia had continued, forcing the horticulture exporters here to approach the Centre to resolve the crisis.

Baby John, Executive Director, Pineapple Growers and Processors, Vazhakkulam pointed out that Kerala's pineapple exports to gulf nations was minimal at 150-200 tonnes per month valued at Rs 60 lakh. The higher airfreight charges are making pineapple exports unviable. To cater to the surging export demand, he suggested a shift in pineapple cultivation to MD 2 varieties, which has got long shelf life and wide acceptance in the overseas markets. Kerala is still cultivating Mauritius varieties, which has lower shelf life, he added.

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