Hilal Al Yahyai, Chairman of the Shura Council Committee on Food and Water Security, told Dr Fuad Al Sajwani, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, in the Shura Council meeting that the ban has harmed the country.
The ban has resulted in losses of thousands of riyals for Omani fruit and vegetable vendors. Al Sajwani said that Oman has yet to receive an official reply from the United Arab Emirates about the banned agricultural products. “We conveyed our observation to the UAE ambassador in Muscat, Mohammad Al Suwaidi, about the banned products and local farms that exported vegetables that had high pesticides limits,” he said.
Al Sajwani said that his ministry was dealing with the parties found to be in violation of the pesticide limits but also said monitoring of such a large export was very challenging. “We export hundreds of tonnes of food products to the UAE on a daily basis. Such mistakes are likely to happen despite the fact that we are always inspecting products before exporting them,” the minister added.
“It is the social responsibility of Omanis to supervise the functioning of their farms, but many of them have entrusted their farms to expats,” he said.
The minister explained that there are more than 166,000 farms nationwide.
“It’s difficult to monitor all these farms, but we conduct random inspections which have helped crack down on some culprits,” he affirmed.
The elected-Shura Council recently hosted the Minster of Agriculture and Fisheries to discuss the matters relating to agriculture and fisheries sector in the country.
The Health and Environment Committee urged officials to quickly set up an independent authority to monitor use of pesticides in farms in the country, following the ban.
Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries said that it had increased its food inspections.“More than 1,600 samples taken from commercial farms nationwide were tested and we found that 98 per cent of the samples conform to internationally permissible limits of pesticides,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry affirmed that more samples would be taken from commercial farms in the country at different stages of production to make sure that they also conform to the permissible limits regarding the pesticides.
The UAE had announced that fruits found with pesticide residue above the permissible limits will be banned from being imported into the UAE from May 15.
Egypt, Oman, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen will be impacted by the ban.
An agreement between the UAE and Oman since 2010 stipulates that specific produce from Oman must come with a certificate indicating the amount of pesticide residue.
The measures have dramatically improved the safety of Oman’s exported produce.
Oman’s agriculture sector was worth 0.9 per cent of GDP in 2016, according to the National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI).
Oman’s Vision 2020 has set a target of raising agriculture’s contribution to GDP to 3.1 per cent by 2020.
By Fahad Al Mukrashi Correspondent
Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.