Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) is working overtime to ensure local fresh produce exporters conform to European Union (EU)'s new safety standards.
Horticulture has not only become a growth driver of Tanzania's stagnant agriculture and foreign currency earner -bringing home 764 million US dollars annually- but its value chain has created hope to majority poor, as a source of employment and income.
TAHA Group CEO, Jacqueline Mkindi implores all exporters to be in touch with the association and the Ministry of Agriculture, Division of Crop Development, Department of Plant Health Services (PHS), the designated NPPO, to acquire phytosanitary certificates: "We want to make sure exporters are issued with the phytosanitary certificates for the relevant products on time and to check if their systems are able to state the additional declarations in full wording.”
The EU, which is the leading importer, has amended its policy on the maximum residue levels (MRLs) by lowering permissible limits in food produce. Precisely, the new EU market's MRL limits stand at 0.01 milligrammes per kilogramme (mg/kg) against the international standard that sets an MRL level of 2.0 mg/kg.
New requirements on beans and peas are waiting ratification before coming into effect in January 2020. As a result, fear has gripped Tanzania horticultural farmers and exporters over risk of losing the lucrative EU market, if they do not conform to the new safety standards. To make the cut, as it stands now, all exporters and their EU importing agencies would be compelled to pay $1,212 per consignment for inspection.
The EU has unwaveringly warned all countries to ensure all fresh produce meant for its market is free from harmful pesticides and conforming to the 'required MRLs', with repeated failure to adhere to the newly set limits on toxin residue to result in licence cancellation.
Now, TAHA and her key partners are working closely with the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO) that is mandated by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) to offer Phytosanitary certificates to help local exporters to navigate through the stringent EU rules.