FOOD SAFETY ISSUES HINDER RICE EXPORTS – There are several problems facing the export of rice, one of the cash crops that local peasants prefer cultivating compared to cotton and wheat. Recently China has imposed a ban on imports of Egyptian rice

Posted by Gilmour Poincaree on December 13, 2008

December 10, 2008

by Amina Abdul Salam


The reasons behind the ban are related to the use of herbicides, in addition to safety procedures that should be taken in the last stage of the harvest, but which were not made, according to Chinese authorities.

This has prompted Egyptian Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza to ask the Central Administration of the Agriculture Quarantine to invite a formal Chinese delegation to discuss this issue with Chinese agencies.

A study, conducted by Egyptian agronomists Ali Abdul Rahman and Inas Saleh, has found that although international trade began to expand rapidly in the 1970s in the developed countries, developing countries have recently come to dominate a large part of the agricultural trade. Although fast growing, the international exchange trade has started to slow owing to fierce competition over agricultural production, according to the study. The slowdown is also related to an increase in restrictions representing in health conditions imposed by some countries, which aim at protecting their agricultural produce. Therefore, the health conditions have become legal obstacles, similar to the customs obstacles, many of which were unjustifiably imposed on global trade, the study noted. The study also showed that the previous restrictions were drawn up by some countries, not for the purpose of protecting their produce but in response to political activities practised by those who benefit from these curbs.

Therefore, recognition of the previous conditions led to a resistance of applying health specifications, which were one of the main topics of agenda of the trade negotiations, according to the same study. Otherwise, the exporting country has a right to object to health procedures drawn up by the importer in case the first part asserted the previous procedures had no scientific justification. The complainant should settle the issue with the other country. Rice accounts for around 40 per cent of Egypt’s farm exports.In a report on development and agricultural exports, leading Egyptian expert Abdul Salam Gomaa stressed the importance of paying more attention to organic agricultural products that depend on biological fertilizers so as to cope with market demands.

The report called for a gradual expansion of using organic fertilizers and the necessity of developing programmes of agrarian guidance and linking it with research as well as beginning transforming technology to old and new agricultural lands.Concerning new trends in using undated organic technology in the agricultural field, professor Magda Sabour at the Agricultural Research Centre believes that organic cultivation aims at preserving the environmental and biological safety of living creatures.

She notes that organic agriculture depending on biological methods can combat pests that destroy plants, in addition to producing healthy and safe food. On cereal storage, such as rice, a professor of entomology at the same centre in Giza, Shadia Abdul Aziz says that the peasant should protect his crop, following the harvest, not only to reduce waste, and it is his legal responsibility as well. As for destroying insects in cereals, she explains that the insects make the crop unfit for human consumption. “Therefore strict safety and protection measures should be followed at storehouses, taking into consideration the necessity of preventive steps against the occurrence of infection.”



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