Groundnut shipments nosedived 94 per cent to the European Union (EU) in the first five months of the current financial year on strict quality norms adhered by exporters to uplift Indian commodity to global standards.
During the five-month period ending August, total shipments of groundnut to the EU fell to 758 tonnes as compared with 12,051 tonnes in the corresponding period last year. India exports 250,000-275,000 tonnes of groundnut of which 12 per cent are exported to EU. The Indian exporters lowered their overseas supplies amid apprehension that the consignments might be rejected if the commodity does not meet the global standards.
On repeated complaints over aflatoxins, a type of fungus, found in several consignments from India, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), in July this year, had issued stringent norms for groundnut exporters.
Since early this year, Indian Oilseeds and Produce Export Promotion Council (IOPEPC) had been asking local exporters to maintain global quality norms to atleast maintain the four per cent contribution of India to the total groundnut consumption of the European Union.
Apeda has framed stringent quality norms in line with GrapeNet and AnarNet for improving the quality of nuts and tracing their origin in case of complaints from buyers. The processed groundnuts exported to EU from the country had received 45 alerts for the presence of aflatoxin in the product. GrapeNet and AnarNet are procedures initiated by Apeda to trace the origin of the exported fruit in case of any fungus presence.
“The primary task for us to maintain 4 per cent market share. Therefore, IOPEPC alongwith Apeda decided to certify export-oriented units where groundnut for overseas shipment is processed,” said IOPEPC chairman, Sajnay Shah.
Normally, India exports about 30,000 tonnes of groundnut to European Union which is estimated to decline significantly because of strict quality norms introduced by Apeda, the authority to which the government has appointed the final certification agency.
As there had been rapid alerts issued against groundnuts and it’s products exported from India, the Indian government has made mandatory registration of contracts with Apeda or IOPEPC. All processing units, grading and selling units and warehouses / godowns connected with exports of groundnuts to EU countries will have to get their units certified. IOPEPC will be the certifying authority for shelling / grading units and warehouses.
The quality of Indian groundnut for human and bird consumptions has been upgraded to the global standard now from specific customer’s specification standard earlier.
Aflatoxins are a potent group of mycotoxins produced by certain species of bacteria. It has been proved to be the most potent carcinogens. Since, aflatoxin levels cannot be changed to acceptable limits through various processing techniques, therefore, it is essential to control it at initial levels of processing, shelling, grading and warehousing.