Sunday, 13 May 2012

Department of Agriculture team off to China over fruit shipments

By Louella Desiderio
MANILA, Philippines - A team from the Department of Agriculture (DA) will be meeting with Chinese authorities this week to discuss measures being undertaken to ensure that exported fruits comply with quarantine protocol amid China’s tighter restrictions on fruit shipments from the Philippines.
“We will be going there this week to show them that we follow quarantine protocol for our fruit exports,” Bureau of Plant Industry director Clarito Barron said in a telephone interview yesterday.
Barron said that the DA decided in a meeting last week to send a team to China after it imposed tighter regulations by requiring full inspection of Philippine fruit shipments.
China tightened requirements for the entry of fruits after it claimed that it found pests in bananas coming from the Philippines.
Barron said the pests, which Chinese authorities claimed were found on Philippine banana exports, are those that usually affect coconuts.
He said Chinese authorities now require a 100 percent inspection of fruit shipments from the Philippines by opening packages and conducting tests on samples.
Prior to this, Chinese quarantine officials just check the phytosanitary clearance issued by quarantine officials here for the products.
A phytosanitary clearance is issued by the country of origin of the commodity to indicate that such commodity meets import requirements.
Barron said that in order to assure Chinese authorities that the quarantine protocol is being followed here, they will provide a list of accredited growers and packing facilities of fruits.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala yesterday said that the team will also be in China to conduct the inspection with Chinese quarantine officials of fruit shipments coming from the Philippines.
“We will also be inviting them to visit the country so that they can check how the quarantine protocol is implemented,” he said.
He said quarantine officials here in the country have also been instructed to closely inspect containers of fruits to be exported overseas before these are given clearance.
Barron said the Philippines is working to assure Chinese authorities of the quality of fruits being shipped out of the country as China is a major market of banana exports.
China, he said, also purchases pineapples and papaya from the Philippines.
In the event that China would decide not to buy fruits from the Philippines, Barron said the DA will look at existing markets like Iran, Korea, Japan and Europe.
Philippine banana growers and exporters said earlier that they have lost at least P1.44 billion since China imposed tighter restrictions more than two months ago.
China’s restriction on Philippine fruit exports has become controversial amid the ongoing standoff at Scarborough shoal.
 Original Article Here

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