Indian chilli has been banned in Saudi Arabia, the fifth-largest importer of fresh vegetables from India, citing the presence of high pesticide residues in it.
"We have been informed about the Saudi Ministry of Agriculture's decision to ban chilli pepper beginning May 30," said Surinder Bhagat, second secretary of politics and commerce at the Indian Embassy.
"We are in touch with the Saudi authorities to resolve the issue," he told PTI today over phone.
An official at the Ministry of Agriculture said that the decision to ban the import of chilli peppers was made after a sample testing from the Indian shipment showed the presence of high levels of pesticides.
The Saudi Ministry of Agriculture decided to impose the ban after issuing an advisory to the Indian Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), stating that high levels of pesticide residues were detected in some consignments of green chilli, Arab News reported.
"It has been brought to the attention of the authorities here that in recent vegetable consignments from India, there have been interceptions of higher than permissible levels of residues of pesticides. If the situation persists, the government of KSA will take action in the near future," the advisory had read.
Subsequently, APEDA advised exporters to adhere to the Kingdom's import requirements and urged the testing of products before they are exported.
"As a region, West Asia is very important to us. We, therefore, do not want to face repercussions from Saudi Arabia, or any other country in the region. Hence, we have advised our members to test export oriented goods carefully before shipping," an APEDA statement said.
According to the Indian Spices Board, chilli peppers are one of India's largest foreign currency earners, and between April and November 2013 a quantity of 181,500 tonnes of chilli peppers worth USD 3 million were exported.
The ban came after the 28-member European Union (EU) temporarily banned the import of Alphonso mangoes and four other vegetables from India on May 1, citing contamination by pests such as fruit flies and other quarantine pests.