EGYPT – Egypt’s Central Administration for Plant Quarantine (CAPQ) is gearing up to deploy DNA testing in the upcoming 2024 grape season.

CAPQ will implement advanced DNA testing to identify and thwart suspected illegal shipments at the source, a significant departure from previous seasons where the reliance was on European Customs Authorities to detect and act against illicit consignments.

This initiative comes on the heels of Egypt’s accession to the UPOV 91 treaty in 2019, signaling a commitment to robust measures against Plant Breeders’ Rights infringements.

Ministerial Decree No. 387 in 2021 mandated farms and packhouses to secure approval from authorities and obtain a code for grape exports.

Notably, CAPQ further fortified the export process by issuing a decree, warning that engaging in protected varieties without a license could result in the loss of export eligibility.

Violators face potential export bans. Mr. Duncan Macintyre, President of The Breeders Alliance, emphasized the significance of these measures in curbing intellectual property infringements, stating, “Egypt has proved that it is serious about stamping out IP infringements and preventing the export of unlicensed fruit.”

The Breeders Alliance, representing major table grape breeders, has played a pivotal role in this transformative process.

In a recent meeting with Egyptian authorities, including Undersecretary Prof. Saad Moussa and Mr. Elsayed Ahmed Abbas, Technical Director of Egyptian Plant Quarantine, they discussed equipping a new DNA Laboratory and organizing staff training for grape DNA fingerprinting.

Duncan Macintyre acknowledged the proactive stance of CAPQ and its commitment to implementing stringent measures.

He stated, “Our members can now continue to invest with confidence in new high-performance table grape varieties for the benefit of the Egyptian grape industry.”

The DNA testing system will involve creating a reference database using official DNA samples from protected varieties registered at the Plant Protection Office.

This approach enables CAPQ to swiftly verify the authenticity of export consignments, ensuring compliance with intellectual property rights.

Despite weather-related challenges affecting the current grape season, with decreased yields of seedless grapes, Egypt’s table grape export industry remains resilient.

The EU market, a key importer, has shown consistent demand and Egyptian grapes have demonstrated competitiveness, overcoming initial quality concerns.

In a noteworthy achievement, Egypt witnessed record-breaking table grape exports to Saudi Arabia in 2023, reaching 33,000 tons—a 16% increase compared to the previous year.

This remarkable accomplishment underscores Egypt’s position with a commanding 45% share of the Saudi grape import market.

The implementation of DNA testing by CAPQ is poised to further enhance Egypt’s credibility in the global market, assuring stakeholders of the authenticity and quality of its table grape exports.

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