INDIA – The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) is set to increase the number of testing labs in the country with an aim to speed up the sampling and testing of commodities for exports.

“The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has begun country-wide mapping of testing labs. Not only BIS labs but also private labs, National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL)-approved labs and Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) labs,” a top government functionary stated.

Experts have noted that in the last two years alone, the European Union has voiced around 500 serious complaints regarding Indian agricultural exports.

As Mint had previously reported, Indonesia halted Indian agricultural exports after New Delhi failed to renew the registration of its 26 food certification laboratories for grapes and peanuts.

Furthermore, according to two sources with knowledge of the development, Taiwan and Iran have rejected a number of consignments of Indian tea due to phytosanitary problems and the presence of pesticides above legal limits.

“We only have two Efficient and Intelligent Computing (EIC) labs in the country – one in Kochi and another in Mumbai – and that has had a restrictive impact [on exports] as Europe only accepts EIC-cleared basmati rice.

“So if an exporter wants to ship out rice from Punjab, the sample has to be sent to Kochi or Mumbai lab. It is a time-consuming process,” said Vinod Kaul, Senior Executive Director, of All India Rice Exporters Association.

Kaul added that export rejection has been a serious problem as over 30 countries have a mandatory requirement of testing for pesticide residue.

India had already opened an investigation into the rejection of a shipment of more than 56,000 tonnes of Indian Durum wheat following claims that the consignment was discovered to have the “Rubella” virus.

Earlier in the year, the Turkish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry had denied the goods entry into the country after it discovered the phytosanitary issues.

Rubella virus causes a contagious viral disease known as Rubella disease otherwise called German measles. It can cause minimal to no symptoms in patients and is frequently distinguished by its unique red rash.

An infection from a Rubella virus can last up to 3-5 days and can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes or through nasal and throat discharge.

According to experts, Rubella arises as a result of soil or seed contamination.

The Bureau recently signed an MoU with Testing, Inspection, Certification Council, India to promote and harmonise the implementation of standards and quality, safety and sustainability practices in laboratories.

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