Indian exporters overjoyed at lifting of Saudi ban

The lifting of the ban is one of the major developments as far as the fruit and vegetable industries of Kerala are concerned, chamber of commerce member says. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 June 2019
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Indian exporters overjoyed at lifting of Saudi ban

  • “I’m super happy with the development.”
  • Kerala exports 150-160 tons of fruits and vegetables to the Gulf countries every day

NEW DELHI: The Kerala Fruit and Vegetable Exporters Association has expressed joy over the Saudi decision to lift the ban on imports of horticultural products from the south Indian state.

The outbreak of the deadly Nipah virus in certain parts of Kerala in May last year forced the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to ban imports of horticultural products from the state. Most of the GCC members lifted the ban soon after, except for Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom “is a major market for exporters in Kerala. We send our products to Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah airports every day,” said P. E. Ashraf Ali of the association.

“I’d incurred huge losses due to the (Saudi) ban ... Now I hope to recover the loss,” Ali told Arab News. 

“I’m super happy with the development.”

He said he has been able to export 8-10 tons of horticultural products to Saudi Arabia since it resumed imports in late May.

Kerala exports 150-160 tons of fruits and vegetables to the Gulf countries every day, out of which around 40 tons go to Saudi Arabia, said V. Venugopal of the Kerala-based Cochin Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

“The lifting of the ban is one of the major developments as far as the fruit and vegetable industries of Kerala are concerned,” Venugopal added.  

The target this year is to increase exports to GCC countries to 200 tons daily, and if that happens, exports to Saudi Arabia will go up by 15-20 percent, he said.

An official at the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority — a body of the Indian government — told Arab News: “The ban was lifted after the satisfaction of the health ministries in both India and Saudi Arabia that the Nipah virus had been contained and there was no danger either to humans or plants from this virus anymore.”

The official said: “My understanding is that the Indian Health Ministry gave assurances to its Saudi counterpart that it will take fool-proof measures to stop the virus, and then the World Health Organization was also involved.”

He added: “It’s only after everyone was satisfied that there’s no danger from the Nipah virus anymore that Saudi Arabia agreed to lift the ban.”


Global body warns of looming food crisis in Rohingya camps

Updated 9 min 39 sec ago

Global body warns of looming food crisis in Rohingya camps

  • The WFP needs $24 million a month to sustain its operations in Cox’s Bazar which includes $16 million to feed people

DHAKA: The world’s largest humanitarian organization on Wednesday made an urgent appeal for donations to help plug a $40 million (SR150 million) shortfall in funding to feed nearly 900,000 Rohingya refugees.

With stocks expected to run out within two months, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned of an imminent food crisis in squalid camps at Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh unless donors released more funds soon.

Hervé Verhoosel, spokesman for the UN’s food-assistance arm, told journalists in Geneva on Friday that it cost the organization about $16 million every month to feed the Rohingya refugees.  

The UN’s Joint Response Plan (JRP) was launched earlier this year to raise $920 million for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis. According to the financial tracking system of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), only 38 percent of the target had been raised so far this year.

Out of the funds released by donors, around 35.8 percent were used for food security while 17.3 percent and 34.7 percent were allocated to health and nutrition respectively.

“We have two months’ worth of food in stock and have a funding shortfall of around $40 million for the period of August to January,” Gemma Snowdon, WFP spokeswoman at Cox’s Bazar, told Arab News.

“The JRP is only around one-third funded which means that the implementation of programs will suffer this year. Funding is always a concern for aid organizations, especially as we’re two years into this crisis,” she said.

The WFP needs $24 million a month to sustain its operations in Cox’s Bazar which includes $16 million to feed people. The organization also undertakes engineering and disaster risk-reduction work at the camps and runs nutrition, livelihoods and school feeding programs for the Rohingya refugees.

The funding shortfall has also created concern among other aid agencies which have been working on the ground there since August 2017.

“As the largest responder in all 34 camps, we have been working closely with the Inter Sector Coordination Group and working in every area of humanitarian assistance in the Rohingya camps. We will discuss the funding issues at the next JRP meeting which will take place shortly,” said Sajedur Hasan, director of BRAC, a Bangladeshi non-government organization.

BRAC has been working for the well-being of the Rohingya from the very beginning of the refugee crisis, employing more than 2,000 staff to provide humanitarian assistance.

“We don’t have any contingency plan regarding the food support program,” Hasan said.

Bangladesh is currently hosting more than 1.1 million Rohingya refugees at camps in Cox’s Bazar, after a majority of them fled the Myanmar army from their Rakhine state homeland in August 2017.