Britain has said it will push to lift the European Union’s ban on Indian mangoes and some vegetables if there was a clear message from India that export procedures had improved to ensure that consignments were free of pests and insects.
Responding to a debate on the ban in the House of Commons on Thursday evening, Dan Rogerson, minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said it was up to exporters in India to improve their processes and meet the criteria for export to the EU.
He said: “Clearly the key action resides with the exporters, in their ability to demonstrate that what they are exporting meets the criteria that we need to have confidence in. As soon as we have a clear message that things are improving, I and my ministerial colleagues will be happy to press the European Union to have an early re-inspection so that we can get the ban overturned”.
Rogerson added: “Despite…the Indian authorities’ recognition of the problems and their undertaking to address them, the number of pests found in produce imports continued to rise during 2013. There have been 20 interceptions of pests in Indian produce coming into the UK in 2014 alone”.Read: EU bans Indian mangoes, vegetables due to concerns over pests
Moved by senior Labour MP Keith Vaz, the debate saw MPs across the political spectrum expressing concern over an issue that has adversely affected exporters in India as well as importers in Britain, which is the largest importer of Indian mangoes in the EU.
Vaz said he met Indian agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on Wednesday, and had then been informed by his ministry of the steps India had taken. Commerce minister Anand Sharma had also written to the EU, stating that the ban was “surprising”, Vaz said.
“The United Kingdom is the mango’s true home in the EU as we are the largest importer of the fruit. In 2013 we consumed well over 56,000 tonnes of mangoes, 4,800 tonnes of which came from India. That is 12 million mangoes, which is equivalent in weight to 800 elephants”, Vaz said.