Nepal | August 12, 2020

Country seeks amendment to Citrus Trade Agreement

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, March 23

The government has come to conclusion that it would not be possible to meet criteria of Citrus Trade Agreement (CTA) with China.

A committee formed under the leadership of Sabnam Shiwakoti, programme director at Post Harvest Technology Directorate, to study the sanitary and phytosanitary barriers in export of agricultural goods and citrus fruits to China has recommended inviting officials from China-Tibet Inspection and Quarantine Bureau to show them citrus production practice in the country in a bid to revise the agreement.

Submitting its report recently to Secretary of Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, the committee has said that it is difficult to get recognition of pest free area (PFA) from the expertise and resources available. The report has recommended to propose amendment of pact replacing ‘product of pest free area’ with pest free products.

Nepal and China had signed the CTA four years back, that states such fruits should be produced in PFAs to be deemed eligible for export to the northern neighbour. PFA is the area in which a specific pest does not occur as demonstrated by scientific evidence.

Pradyumna Raj Pandey, senior agriculture economist at MoAD and member secretary of the study committee, informed that the government had also introduced some pocket areas for citrus fruits eyeing exports to the northern neighbour after signing the pact. It has become a challenge though due to fruit flies that can travel 10.5 kilometres in a single day. These flies are responsible for spreading pesticides to PFAs, as per Pandey. Fruit flies are one of the world’s most destructive horticultural pests and pose risks to most fruits and vegetable crops.

Nepal had raised the issue of amending the pact during Nepal-China commerce joint secretary level talks last year. But after the visit of officials from the China-Tibet Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Nepal will formally request China to amend the pact.

The government has mobilised a lot of resources to develop Sindhuli and Syangja districts as PFAs for cultivation of sweet orange and mandarin orange, respectively.

“We’ve conducted pest surveillance programmes in the pocket areas along with adopting locally developed technologies to prevent fruit flies in the respective districts, but to no avail,” said Dilli Ram Sharma, programme director of Plant Protection Directorate.

According to him, even countries like India and Australia are yet to attain success in this regard.

The existing agreement requires not only the products to be pest-free but also that they be harvested only from an officially declared PFA.

A version of this article appears in print on March 24, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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