Some 269 lots of Pakistani mangoes were refused entry to the U.K. after discovery of non-European Tephritidae, better known as fruit fly. The insect is a quarantine-listed, harmful organism that the British authorities believe could damage European fruit production.
In the year to date, with Pakistan only approximately halfway through its mango export season, British customs has refused to allow more than 60 lots of Pakistani mangoes to enter the country, again due to the presence of fruit flies.
According to figures from the U.K.’s Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), the lots denied entry last year were equivalent to over 6% of the total volume of Pakistani mangoes imported into the country. The value marked a huge increase from the 0.9% to 2.4% rejected in the previous four years.
So far this year, approximately 2.8% of the 1,652 lots of Pakistani mangoes allowed entry were found to contain fruit fly.
Speaking to www.freshfruitportal.com, Fera Plant Health Imports Team Leader at Heathrow, Will Surman, said: "We continue to find a significant number of mango consignments from Pakistan with fruit fly present.
"These non-European species of fruit fly are a quarantine-listed organism due in part to the risk they pose to commercial crop production, so any consignments of mangoes found to be infested are refused entry."
However, the scale of the problem was downplayed by Naveed Anwar, managing director of leading mango exporter Imtiaz Enterprises.
"It’s not more than 5% of exports, so it’s not a big issue," he said.
"Domestically, people are highlighting it to get the attention of the government and some companies have this problem with one or two shipments but not more than that."
Anwar added that Imtiaz Enterprises itself had experienced very few problems with fruit fly in their mango shipments.
Similarly, Asif Iqbal of fellow mango exporter Naqshbandi Enterprise, denied that there was any major problems with fruit fly in Pakistan.
"There are no big problems with fruit fly – we can assure U.K. importers that our mangoes are free from fruit fly because we work in hygienic conditions, select good orchards and carry out preventive treatments to avoid any kind of fruit fly risk," he said.
Speaking to Pakistan’s Express Tribune earlier this month, Waheed Ahmed, chairman of the Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association (PFVA), said action needed to be taken by the country’s fresh produce sector to limit the impact of fruit fly infestations on its export potential.
"We know we cannot immediately end the problems of fruit flies and other diseases from our fruits, but we have to start acting now to avoid further worsening of the situation," he told the publication.
"We have taken the government in confidence regarding future plans to spread important information among all stakeholders for controlling fruit diseases," Ahmed added.