DA to suspend pesticide fees for fruits, veggies

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    A regulation issued by the Department of Agriculture (DA) suspending pesticide residue fees on fruits and vegetables is expected to help the sector which experienced decline in exports numbers in recent years.

    DA Order 11 series of 2021 exempts the collection of pesticide residue analysis (PRA) fees for fresh and primary processed such as frozen, dried or pureed fruits including mango, banana, durian, pineapple and vegetables such as okra and edamame, among others that are intended for export by accredited exporters and farmers.

    In a joint statement, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the Philippine Exporters Confederation, (PhilExport) and the Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization, Inc. (PhilFoodex), said that the move protects the interest of farmers and exporters and to enhance the competitiveness of the local industry.

    The groups said that since 2007, the National Pesticide and Analytical Laboratory (NPAL) has not been imposing PRA fees for fresh and frozen mango exports in compliance with Executive Order 554 of 2006 issued by then President Arroyo and DAOrder 7 of 2007.

    However, in 2019, with the exception of fresh mangoes, NPAL started imposing residue fees on frozen mangoes amounting to P5,200 for each lot sample.

    BenedictoYujuico, president of the PCCI, said that the DA’s order to suspend the payment of PRA fees will be a big help to around 150,000 farmers and growers nationwide which includes more than 1,000 small and medium-sized processors and exporters engaged in production and processing especially with the effects of the pandemic.

    Meanwhile, Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr., president of PhilExport, said that they are also hopeful “that the Bureau of Plant Industries will implement measures that would help achieve our export targets by enhancing the competitiveness of the agri-food sector to open and expand global market access and niches.”

    As for Roberto Amores, president of PhilFoodex, the DA should also look into other technical measures that serve as barriers to trade that affects agricultural and food exporters.

    He cited that since countries like Japan, European Union, United States, South Korea and China and all other major markets have already imposed stringent traceability standards or the maximum residue limit on pesticide to protect consumers, it has become a technical barrier that affects the country’s export performance.

    The groups said that Philippines exports of fruits and vegetables continue to shrink over the last ten years.