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EU bans Indian Alphonso mangoes, vegetables

Temporary prohibition from May 1

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The 28-member European Union (EU) has temporarily banned Alphonso mangoes, the king of fruits, and four vegetables from India from May 1, sparking protests from the Indian community, lawmakers and traders.

The recent decision by the grouping's Standing Committee on Plant Health came after 207 consignments of fruit and vegetables from India imported into the EU in 2013 were found contaminated by pests.

The ban, proposed by the European Commission, includes mangoes, eggplants, taro plants, bitter gourds and snake gourds, and prohibits the import to tackle "significant shortcomings in the phytosanitary certification system of such products exported."

Though the prohibited commodities represent less than five per cent of the total fresh fruit and vegetables imported into the EU from India, the potential introduction of new pests could pose a threat to EU agriculture and output, the committee noted.

UK's department for environment, food and rural affairs, backing the ban, said it was necessary as pests could threaten the country's £321 million salad crop sector of tomatoes and cucumbers.

The UK imports 16 million mangoes a year from India and the market for the fruit is £6 million a year.

A review of the ban will take place before December 31, 2015.

Businesses claimed they will lose hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Wholesalers and retailers in Indian-dominated regions of the UK have opposed the ban.

"This is Euro nonsense and bureaucracy gone mad. Indian mangoes have been imported to Britain for centuries. I am furious at the lack of consultation with those who will be affected," said India-origin member of Parliament Keith Vaz, who has written to the European Commission president after his constituents in the city of Leicester made a plea.

He has written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ascertain if the Indian government was consulted.

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First Published: Tue, April 29 2014. 00:22 IST