On the grounds of helping to prevent imports of fruits and vegetables potentially carrying hazardous chemical residues, the Agriculture Ministry has imposed a ministerial regulation requiring the products to meet internationally-recognized safety standards.
The regulation was first introduced in August but will be effective as from Nov. 19.
Under the newly issued Agriculture Minister’s Regulation No.27/2009, importers are obliged to attach certification letters mentioning the imported fruits and vegetables do not contain dangerous chemicals as regulated by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“We have made our own standards for all kind of fruits and vegetables, in line with FAO regulations.
We require fruit and vegetable exporter countries to recognize the standards if they want to continue exporting to Indonesia,” the ministry’s Head of Agricultural Quarantine Agency Hari Priyono told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
He said that the regulation aimed to protect Indonesians from consuming unhealthy fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables grown using chemical fertilizers and pesticides or growth hormones and antibiotics sometimes appeared to be healthy but could contain hazardous and possibly toxic chemical residues, Hari explained.
“The government had conducted assessments on exporting countries since the regulation was issued in Aug. 19. However, several nations, like Australia, the US, the European Union [countries] and China, requested a three-month preparation [period] to meet our standards,” he said,
Most countries had now finished preparing the standards and the Indonesian government had recognized them as safe fruits and vegetables exporters, Hari said.
Commodities from such countries are required to meet simpler procedures when entering Indonesia. Importers would only need to show the certification letters and the goods would be able to enter Indonesia right away after the letters were verified, he said.
According to the regulation, countries that have not recognized Indonesia’s standards may still have chances to sell the commodities in Indonesia, under certain conditions.
“Fruit and vegetables with no certification letters must first enter our labs to conduct chemical tests.
“If the tests prove that the goods are not chemically safe, importers must send them back to the countries of origin. If they don’t do that within a period of time, we will destroy the goods,” Hary said.
Indonesian Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Exporters and Importers Association Chairman Kafi Kurnia welcomed the (new) regulation.
“As far as I know, our entire 30 member companies agree with the regulation as long as it’s implemented fairly,” he told the Post.
Data from Agriculture Ministry shows that, in 2008, the value of vegetables imports hit US$442.41 million, up by 25.9 percent from a year earlier. For fruits imports, the value in 2008 reached $474.19 million, 5.57 percent higher than a year before. (bbs)