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India irked by EU mango ban

India's leading export promotion agency criticised a European ban on mango imports as unjustified on Tuesday and appealed to Brussels to overturn its decision.

NEW DELHI: India's leading export promotion agency criticised a European ban on mango imports as unjustified on Tuesday and appealed to Brussels to overturn its decision.

The 28-member European Union imposed the ban, to take effect on May 1, on import of the highly prized Alphonso mangoes, known as the "king of fruits", and four vegetables after finding unwanted pests such as "non-European fruit flies" in some consignments.

"Now all consignments are undergoing certification and testing to address the concerns," Rafiq Ahmed, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO), a government-affiliated organisation, told AFP.

"We ask the EU to look into the matter -- we have taken care of the issues. Now they should lift the ban," Ahmed said.

Meanwhile, a commerce ministry official told AFP that New Delhi has already raised the issue with Brussels.

The EU plant health care committee announced plans last month to introduce the ban after 207 Indian consignments of fruits and vegetables were found to be contaminated by pests such as fruit flies.

Among the vegetables banned are bitter gourd and eggplant.

The EU said it acted to tackle what it called "significant shortcomings in the phytosanitary certification system of such products exported to the EU".

It noted a high number of consignments arriving with "quarantine pests, mainly insects, like non-European fruit flies".

Though the prohibited goods account for below five per cent of the total fresh fruits and vegetables imported into the EU from India, introduction of new pests could threaten EU agriculture and production, the committee said.

The ban is due to run from May 1 to December 2015 but Ahmed said the ban should be lifted earlier.

The ban has enraged some in Britain, a key market for Indian growers where London's mayor Boris Johnson supported the first-ever Indian mango festival in Trafalgar Square last year.

Indian-origin lawmaker Keith Vaz called the mango ban "Euro-nonsense and bureaucracy gone mad".

"Indian mangoes have been imported to Britain for centuries," Vaz said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

But the EU ban has led to a surplus of mangoes in local Indian markets, driving down prices to the delight of local fruit lovers.

But Indian farmers are dismayed.

"The export ban will definitely affect farmers and prices because the unsent mangoes will be diverted to local markets and cause a supply glut," Miling Joshi, an official at the Mango & Cashew Board told AFP.

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