1. Agriculture World

Good News: Saudi Arabia Finally Lifts Import Ban on Fruits & Vegetables from Kerala

Abha Toppo
Abha Toppo

Almost a year after the deadly Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala, Saudi Arabia on Monday (27th May 2019) has lifted the ban it has imposed on the import of fruits and vegetables from the state.

P.E. Ashraf Ali of Pomona Exports, Kozhikode told that they have received a communication in this regard from the authorities in Saudi Arabian during the 2nd week of May that has led to the beginning of direct exports from the 3 airports in the State.

It is important to mention that Saudi Arabia is one of the major export market of fruits and vegetables from Kerala & the presence of huge floating population ensures a good volume of trade from there.

With the lifting of the ban, Ali said Kozhikode airport was alone managing 20 tonnes of fruits & vegetables each day valued at $50,000 to different destinations in Saudi Arabia. A similar quantity has also been moving from the other 2 airports of Kochi & Thiruvananthapuram to Dammam, Riyadh & Jeddah airports. At present, mangoes such as Banganapalle, Alphonso are the major items in the export basket, followed by pineapple and banana.

Kerala transports around 150 tonnes of fruits and vegetables every day to various gulf countries and of this, the shipment to Saudi alone was 30 to 40 tonnes. With the easing of restrictions, the exporters in Kerala are now planning to increase the quantity of exports to 200 tonnes this year. Ali said, “We are receiving more export enquiries from European nations, Japan, New Zealand, Korea etc for the shipments of fruits”.

It must be recalled that all the Gulf countries had imposed the ban in May last year after Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. Though all the GCC nations lifted the restrictions after 2 months, Saudi Arabia had continued, compelling the horticulture exporters here to approach the Government to resolve the issue.

Executive Director of Pineapple Growers and Processors, Vazhakkulam, Baby John has pointed out that Kerala's pineapple exports to gulf countries was minimal at 150 to 200 tonnes / month valued at Rs 60 lakh. High airfreight rates are making pineapple exports unviable. In order to cater to the surging export demand, John recommended a shift in pineapple farming to MD 2 varieties that has got long shelf life along with wide acceptance in the international markets. Kerala is still growing Mauritius varieties that have lower shelf life, he said.

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