Ministry steps up checks on imported produce

Update: September, 22/2014 - 08:15
Employees at the Mong Cai Plant Protection Station check fruit imported via the Mong Cai Border Gate. The Agriculture Ministry has issued a list of plants that have to be strictly quarantined before being imported into Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo The Duyet

HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development is tightening up health checks on fresh fruit and vegetables imported into Viet Nam.

A list of plants and trees that have to be checked for pesticides, chemicals and diseases has been issued by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh.

The list is included in a circular that goes into effect on January 1 next year.

Agents for plants imported into Viet Nam before the circular takes effect will have to provide information to Viet Nam's Plant Protection Department for analysis.

Doanh told the department to update newest technologies to quarantine the plants.

The Viet Nam Customs Department said that the country spent about $50 million on imported fruit and vegetables in August - Thailand, $19.7 million; China, $12.9 million; and the United States, $5.27 million.

Fruit traders in Thach Da, Cau and Hoang Hoa Tham in HCM City, which are known to stick false stamps on some produce, claiming it came from the United States, the United Kingdom or Thailand to mislead consumers, according to reports from the Trade and Industry news website.

Only three of 20 grocery stores admitted selling apples imported from China, despite evidence to the contrary.

Statistics from the Customs point out that about 53,000 tonnes of apples were imported from China to Viet Nam in 2013, accounting for 75 per cent of total apple imports last year.

At a grocery store in HCM City's Hoang Hoa Tham Market, staff were found sticking labels on fruit claiming that it came from the United States.

Genuine US apples costs between VND80,000-130,000 ($4-6.5) a kilo compared to about VND40,000 ($2) for a kilo of Vietnamese apple.

One small trader in Go Vap District's Xom Moi Market said that tonnes of fruit were imported from China every day. — VNS