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FRUITS & VEGETABLE

Kerala fruits and veggie exporters seek govt help in lifting Saudi ban
Tuesday, 29 January, 2019, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Khyati Das, Mumbai
Exporters of fruits and vegetables from Kerala have appealed to the Union government seeking help in Saudi Arabia lifting ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from the southern Indian state. The ban was imposed by the Gulf state about eight months ago due to Nipah virus outbreak.

“Farmers and exporters have incurred huge amount of losses as Saudi Arabia is one of the major export market for fruits and vegetables from Kerala, which also offers good remuneration for the produce,'' explained Anil George, GM, Sealine Impex.

He stressed, “Due to the drop in exports, farmers have to depend entirely on domestic market for trading which won’t fetch them the desired gains.”

George rued, "Eventually, we have to send our produce to nearby cities either Bangalore or Coimbatore, which costs Rs 25 per kg additional transport burden."

Commenting on the scenario in Kerala, V Venugopal, president, Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a premier trade body in Kerala, stated, “We have appealed to Saudi Arabia government to lift the ban on Kerala, as the Kerala government has taken very effective steps to control the Nipah virus. If exports do not resume soon, the fruit and vegetable market will be very badly impacted.”

He added, “We have also requested Government of India and Kerala government to intervene in the issue as it is not only a loss for local farmers, but for people in the country.”

He said that since the season of mangoes was coming up and mangoes from Kerala were among the most popular in Saudi Arabia, many people from Kerala living in Saudi Arabia were expecting the fruit. “So if the ban is lifted, it will reduce the unnecessary logistics burden and also lower the consumer cost,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that Saudi Arabia had banned imports from Kerala due to the outbreak of Nipah virus in May last year. Nipah had killed around 15 people in the state. Citing this as a risk in consuming fruits and vegetables, the Gulf countries namely Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates restricted their imports from Kerala. However, later, while rest of them, including Bahrain, which was the last one, lifted the ban, Saudi Arabia did not do so. 
 
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