HA NOI — Starting in September, fresh fruit, plants and plant products will be kept in quarantine before being imported to Viet Nam, according to a new circular launched by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Circular 39 stipulates a list of plants to be analysed for chemical contamination, crop failure and disease before being imported. These include fresh fruit and seeds, cultivated plants, and some kinds of wood.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Bui Ba Bong said that plants which have new origins or are imported to Viet Nam for the first time must undergo analysis.
Imported plants found to have risks of diseases or crop failure or bear warnings about chemical risks from export countries would also be required to be analysed in Viet Nam, he said.
The ministry reserved the right of exempting plants from analysis when necessary, he said.
The move was made after the ministry inspected 104 samples of foreign fruits and vegetables on sale at the markets last month.
The tests found that pesticide residues in samples of three kinds of Chinese fruits and vegetables were much higher than local limits. Two samples of Chinese grapes had difenoconazole residues 3-5 times higher than safety standards.
Recently, Chinese grapes were reportedly imported from China over the Lao Cai border, labeled as American grapes and sold for VND20,000-40,000 ($0.9-1.9) per kilo.
American grapes are commonly priced at VND90,000-100,000 ($4.2-4.7) per kilo.
Nguyen Ngoc Hanh, a housewife in Ha Noi's Bach Mai Street, said she only bought fruit she knew were domestically produced such as bananas, grapefruits, oranges and avocado.
"Imported fruit must travel a long way to get to Viet Nam. I think they must add chemicals to preserve the fruit better. I prefer it fresh," she said.
The circular takes effect on September 27.
Previously, imported fruits were only required to have quarantine certificates granted by the ministry's Post-Entry Quarantine Center 2, which did not include any analysis of pesticide residues or damage from toxic or banned chemicals. — VNS