It is most unfortunate that some of India’s fruit and vegetable produce has been banned by the EU on account of pest infestation (Editorial, May 2). It is a fact that fruits and vegetables are contaminated by pest or pesticide in one form or the other. Fruits like grape and mango are ripened artificially and contaminated with pesticides. It is a wonder that we do not end up being poisoned. It is also shocking that some sections of the media are adding a spin to this by saying that as the EU has banned the import of some fruits and vegetable varieties, the prices of these will come down, making them affordable to all. When the EU refused to allow contaminated produce keeping in mind the deadly health effects, how can we celebrate this and then consume the same contaminated material?
In the international market, maintaining phyto-sanitary standards is an essential prerequisite to export fruits and vegetables. In India, the area under fruits and vegetables is expanding exponentially with the production of horticultural crops reportedly surpassing foodgrain production in 2013-14. India has great potential to export most horticultural crops given the low costs of production. However, there is an urgent need to strengthen the value chain of fruits and vegetables with the establishment of phyto-sanitary certificate institutions and infrastructure. This in turn will help small fruit and vegetable farmers.
A. Amarender Reddy,
India must stop trying to play victim here and accept the shameful truth. In a world of cut-throat competition, India will have to hold meaningful discussions with the EU, get the ban revoked and see to it that agricultural exports hereafter conform to international health and phyto-sanitary standards. At a time when increased exports are essential to earn much-needed foreign exchange, India cannot afford to lose ground to other exporters. The fact that this has happened is not surprising. Short-cuts and sloppy standards are a part of the way we live in India.