No ban on fruit, vegetable importation – Gov’t

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THE Government, on Tuesday, said that, contrary to reports in some sections of the media, it has no policy to ban or restrict the importation of fruits or vegetables.
“These false reports were brought to the attention of Cabinet at its meeting today (Tuesday) and Cabinet reiterates that it is in favour of free trade and does not wish to impede the choice of consumers on the local market,” Director of Public Information Imran Khan said in a statement.

He noted that Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, will continue to support local farmers and seek additional overseas markets for their produce in addition to advancing the agro-processing agenda.

Khan said Cabinet, in its deliberations, also drew attention to the fact that several Guyanese companies export seafood, fruits and vegetables and other produce to CARICOM and international markets which contribute to foreign exchange earnings and provide jobs for thousands of Guyanese.

“Importation of produce into Guyana is subject to known licensing requirements and procedures of the Guyana Revenue Authority and other relevant agencies. These have been in place for years,” Khan stated.

On Monday, the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) issued an advisory calling on importers of commodities such as citrus, peppers and cabbages to obtain the requisite permission from the National Plant Protection Organisation. NAREI explained that it was crucial that the commodities listed receive the necessary phytosanitary requirements and pest risk analysis. It warned that if the requirements are not met, the commodities will be rejected.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago has removed restrictions related to pineapples and peppers, which had been identified by Guyana as possible trade barriers to the export of agricultural products, but this was after certain requirements were met.
The removal of restrictions by Trinidad, last week, comes approximately one month after technical officers from both sides met at the Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Fisheries of Trinidad and Tobago

Meanwhile, the non-conformity of Trinidad and Tobago’s legislation governing the importation of honey has been a long-standing issue. Trinidad and Tobago’s honey, bees and bee products are guided by the island’s age-old Food and Drug Act of 1960 and Beekeeping and Bee products Act of 1935. Both of these, however, are not in keeping with the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) as highlighted by COTED and has led to the total prohibition of honey from other countries to the island.

During the technical meeting of experts on September 13, 2019, Trinidad said the trans-ship of honey remains high on its agenda. “Trinidad and Tobago reiterated the seriousness of this issue and indicated that the shipment of honey has attracted the attention of the Honourable Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Parliament, all of which are active deliberations, with an update to be provided at the next meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), scheduled for November 2019,” the Trinidadian experts had explained.