MADAGASCAR – The European Commission (EC) has called on the  Malagasy executive to adopt a strategy to improve the phytosanitary compliance of the cowpea sector or risk losing the commodity’s export licenses.

According to Ecofin Agency, the ultimatum follows concerns raised by Olivier Machiels, head of development cooperation within the EU that the legume has traces of chlorpyrifos, a chemical substance active in certain phytosanitary products and prohibited by European regulations.

The commission, therefore, has called upon Madagascar to send a clear message to the European Union on its cowpea exports or risk soon being imposing an embargo on shipments of the legume.

The commission has also expressed fear over the country’s questionable quality and the loopholes in the sanitary and phytosanitary control system.

In Madagascar, cowpea, also known locally as “black eyes “, is one of the main agricultural products exported, ranking 2nd largest exporter of Black eye beans in the World after India.

The country exports between 20,000 and 25,000 tons of cowpea per year according to data from the Department of Plant Protection (DPV) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock.

In 2019, the production of cowpeas (black-eyed peas) in Madagascar was 31,069 tonnes with approximately 34,122.00 hectares under the legume’s cultivation.

In 2020, the quantity of cowpeas (black eyed peas) shipped by Madagascar was 13,494 metric tonnes valued at

Ecofin Agency reports that, for two years, Brussels had already warned Madagascar of exceeding the maximum limit for pesticide residues.

In addition, this situation had already led the EC to adopt on February 26 an implementing regulation to strengthen official controls and emergency measures governing the entry into the EU of cowpeas shipped from the Big Island.

According to the EU, the only way to remedy the situation is to apply a systemic approach or post-harvest treatment to ensure that the exported product is free of residues.

However, for the Malagasy authorities, an EU embargo would be detrimental to the sector insofar as the economic bloc represents the most profitable market and the main outlet for legume shipments.

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