Food

India writes to Nepal for joint secretary-level talks over quarantine issues

Nepal had banned Indian fruits and vegetables from entering its territory after the AES outbreak in Bihar

 
By Jitendra
Last Updated: Tuesday 06 August 2019
India and Nepal share a 1,758 kilometre-long open border with several border crossings like this one in Thutibari, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
India and Nepal share a 1,758 kilometre-long open border with several border crossings like this one in Thutibari, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Wikimedia Commons India and Nepal share a 1,758 kilometre-long open border with several border crossings like this one in Thutibari, Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (MAFW) has sought joint secretary-level talks with Nepal over quarantine issues, a source said.

Nepal asked its Customs checkposts to bar vehicles carrying vegetables and fruits if their drivers failed to produce quarantine certificates, after the outbreak of acute encephalitis syndrome in districts of Bihar on June 17.

Nepal earlier tested pesticide levels once vegetables and fruits crossed over. It, however, decided to seek quarantine certificates after an increase in quarantine failures in India.

The Supreme Court there satyed the decison on July 10 while hearing a public interest litigation. Following this, its government let in the Indian produce but tested them as a temporary arrangement till any consensus could be reached.

India's MAFW has now written to the Nepal government and sought talks at the joint secretary-level to remove curbs imposed by Nepal in the near future.

“We proposed a certificate from the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL) for fruits and vegetable,” a senior official told Down To Earth.

“We are taking this route to avoid any such situation in the future,” the official added.

The NABL is a constituent board of the Quality Council of India. NABL has been established with the objective to provide government, trade bodies and the industry with a scheme for third-party assessment of the quality and technical competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

Recently, invasive pest and weed species have spread in India. The Fall Armyworm and Rugose spiralling whitefly have caused enormous food losses, threatening food security and agriculture. Their entry has raised questions about the effecacy of India's quarantine system. 

Several studies the world over have emphasised that alien species frequently alter ecology, driving native crops to extinction, destroying terrestrial or aquatic vegetation and polluting the native gene pool through cross breeding.

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