Pakistani mango probe after exporter slips up with EU shipment
An industry body told www.freshfruitportal.com Karachi-based Sajjad and Company was to be questioned over the infested shipment, the first of its kind in the Pakistani mango sector this year.
“The shipment of the company got infested with fruit fly during the transit. The matter is now under investigation to ascertain facts,” a spokesman for the All Pakistan Fruit & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association said.
Sajjad and Company was unable to provide comment on request.
Although Pakistan has successfully exported approximately 26,000 metric tons (MT) of the fruit to Europe this year, attention now turns to why and how this consignment got infested with the pest.
According to the European Union (EU), Pakistan could face a ban if there are more than five rejections and this concerns some within the country’s mango export sector.
A similar situation happened at the beginning of India’s 2014 mango season when the EU announced an embargo following a raft of contaminated consignments.
Although the prohibition was reviewed and overturned earlier than expected, the restrictions killed off the 2014 season and sent shockwaves throughout the Indian sector. Simultaneously it promoted neighboring Pakistan, looking to capitalize on market opportunities, to tighten controls of mango production, packing, transportation and export procedures.
A managing partner of another exporter, KP International, said he "hopes and prays" this does not happen again.
"I process mango for around 16 exporters and I export hundreds of tons to Europe every year without any complaint or problems because my procedures are excellent and proper," Jamshaid Bashir Bhatti, said.
"My understanding is this was the first time this exporter took his processed mango to his own warehouse and he obviously was not as careful as he should be. At some point there was an infestation and this is what caused the interception in the Netherlands.
"Two years ago Pakistan had 237 interceptions and now, with all the work with hot water treatment and standardizing exports, there has not been a single rejection this year, until now."
Bhatti is concerned that 'newcomers', who are not properly aware of the export procedures and the dire consequences if their consignments are turned away, may discredit the Pakistani sector as a whole.
"The department of plant protection know there is absolutely no problem with my plant or any other Pakistani plant working with mangoes. We are all working properly and this happened because of his own negligence.
"There are still some people who don’t understand how to handle the cargo and take the fruit from a hot water treatment plant back to their own premises for packing and somewhere along the line there becomes a problem.
"Some newcomers can be naive but that can be very costly, not only to them, but to others. None of us want more rejections in Europe as that could lead to very big problems."
Tjitte Mastenbroek, from the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, said every year approximately 350,000 shipments of vegetables, fruit, flowers, plants and seeds from various countries were offered for import inspection at Dutch border controls.
Last year, 370 harmful organisms were found from a variety of countries.