Cairo working to end Saudi ban on Egyptian strawberries: minister

Egypt is currently working to end a Saudi ban on imports of Egyptian strawberries implemented by the Gulf country on Saturday, agriculture minister Abdel-Moneim El-Banna said on Sunday.

El-Banna said in press statements his ministry is in talks with Saudi officials to resolve several problems related to the export of a number of products, including strawberries, as a prelude to the reintroduction of exports to the Gulf country, which imposed the ban in June but put it in effect this week.

The minister stressed that Egyptian experts will be presented with Saudi conditions for resuming Egyptian crop imports.

“A new system will be implemented that will boost the quality of agricultural products for local customers as well as exports to foreign markets. These measures would help in resolving outstanding issues and open new foreign markets for Egyptian products,” El-Banna added.

According to media reports, sample tests on a shipment of Egyptian strawberries showed that pesticide residue was higher than the international standard, with Egypt not doing enough to warn the companies that have committed violations.

The head of Egypt’s Agriculture Export Council, Abdel-Hamid El-Demerdash, predicted over the weekend that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE would revoke a ban on Egyptian imports of strawberries and pepper respectively before the upcoming 2017/2018 export season.

In April, the UAE joined a number of countries that banned imports of pepper from Egypt.

El-Demerdash said that his council participated in visits sponsored by the agriculture ministry to the Gulf countries to present officials with the measures undertaken by Egypt to ensure the safety of export products.

El-Demerdash stressed the importance of regional exports for Egypt, noting that the country exports 50 percent of agricultural crop exports to Arab countries, amounting to 1.8 million tonnes of product worth $1 billion yearly.

From September 2016 to May 2017, Egypt exported some 3.2 million tonnes in agricultural produce worth $1.7 billion.

Source: Ahram online