Pesticide contamination threatens Egyptian fruit exports to Europe and Saudi Arabia

The Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation has tightened inspection procedures for export fruit following threats by the European Union (EU) and Saudi Arabia to curtail Egyptian imports due to high pesticide contamination.

In a statement issued on 30 December, the ministry said the move was meant to increase the export of safer fruit products following complaints of pesticide contamination in oranges, guavas and pomegranates.

The move will help reduce the high quantity of fruit exports rejected by customers over biosafety concerns, says the ministry. Starting this month, only the Central Administration for Agricultural Quarantine in Cairo will handle all inspections and export requests for guavas and pomegranates. Inspections will take place on farms before being tested in laboratories for pesticide residues.


In a letter addressed to quarantine administration, the European Commission’s administration for phytosanitary standards said it would tighten inspections of Egyptian citrus imports in order to identify content that may be harmful to humans, or threaten local plants with disease.

Previously, the EU policy was to inspect 25% of the containers in each fruit shipment. The rate has now been increased to 100% of the containers in a shipment. Egypt exports around 220 000 tons of citrus to the EU annually.

The letter said the new inspection rules will take effect early in February and remain in force until late in 2018. Several other African countries that export citrus products to the EU will be affected by the policy change.


In a letter to the Egyptian government, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Saudi Arabia has threatened to stop imports of Egyptian pomegranates due to high pesticide residue content.

The country said it would stop receiving the Egyptian exports unless the contamination problem was resolved. Last month, Saudi Arabia banned Egyptian guava imports citing high pesticide contamination.

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