Holland may ban produce from Suriname

The Netherlands is threatening a crackdown on the importation of fruits and vegetables from Suriname after recent studies have shown that the produce from the Dutch Speaking Caribbean Community (Caricom) contain too much pesticides and other residues that could be a health risk—Trinidad’s Guardian reports.

The Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority of the Netherlands said 162 samples between 2010 and 2011 show 11.7 per cent contained levels of pesticide residue higher that the legal limit. Agriculture Minister Hendrik Setrowidjojo could not be reached for a comment. He is reported to be out of the country.

But recently, Amar Singh, a major supplier of Surinamese vegetables to the Dutch market, expressed his concerns over the issue and predicted difficult times for Surinamese produce in the European Union. One legislator, Henk Ramnandanlal, a member of the permanent committee for Agriculture (LVV), said that “Suriname is considered a risk country, which means that we in Suriname only have ourselves to blame,” while agricultural entrepreneur Max Ghazi said that the issue should have been dealt with a long time ago.

Ghazi, who used to export vegetables from Suriname but now grows vegetables in the Netherlands, said he had informed both the former and current governments of the potential of this problem, and even offered expertise from the Netherlands to assist both local farmers and the authorities.

“I’m not saying that we didn’t do anything, but it’s clear we haven’t been able to safeguard our fruit and vegetable exports to the Netherlands.” The use of certain pesticides has been banned in Suriname without any sufficient alternative substances or methods having been introduced.

Suriname’s only food laboratory was destroyed by fire. “Eighteen months have passed since then, but the new food safety lab is not finished yet. This would not have happened with good management and a forward-looking policy and if we had set priorities if we were aware of these problems,” Ramnandanlal said.

For the original report go to http://www.guardian.co.tt/business/2012-05-23/holland-may-ban-produce-suriname

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