Russia’s decision on transportation of fruits, vegetables may have negative impact on our exports
Russia will toughen rules for transportation of fruits, vegetables and flowers across the border from August 19. Under the new requirements, people will be allowed to transport no more than 5 kg of vegetables and fruits in their luggage without special phytosanitary certificates, according to a government decree published on the official Internet portal of legal information on July 19. Also, under the new rules, no more than three bouquets of flowers will be allowed for transportation in the baggage and hand luggage. Each bouquet can contain no more than 15 flowers, leaves or other plant parts. Transportation of larger quantities of fruits, vegetables and plants will require phytosanitary certificates. In case of their absence, the regulated products will either be returned back or destroyed at the expense of the owner. The new rules will be extended to all types of transport, including water, air, rail and road transport. In addition, the innovations will also concern members of the crews of ships, aircraft and dining cars crossing the border of the Eurasian Economic Union, as well as mailings.
It is widely known that Azerbaijan has established extensive economic contacts with Russia and imports most of its products. So, we tried to find out how the toughening of transportation rulesin Russia will affect the export of our products, and whether our fruits and vegetables meet phytosanitary rules.
Representative of the Azerbaijan Food Safety Agency (AQTA) stressed that the agency carries out state control at all stages of the food chain. "Phytosanitary quarantine inspection is applied to phytosanitary quarantine controlled products (including documents, vehicles, packaging materials, plant and plant products) imported by each country in accordance with the requirements of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures and national legislation. Imports of cargo are permitted if no discrepancies are revealed during the quarantine inspection. Any identified discrepancy is regulated by the International Standard No. 13 on Phytosanitary Measures. If the importing country requires a phytosanitary certificate for the plant and plant products exported from our country, the Agency shall issue it. Loads may be neutralized, processed, destroyed, or returned if the harmful organisms used in quarantine are found in accordance with the requirements of International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures and national legislation. If there is any inconsistency with the requirement of International Standard No. 13 on Phytosanitary Measures, the importing country will immediately notify the exporting country," the agency representative said.
Phytosanitary surveillance is being carried out by the AQTA employees in the country. The next phytosanitary surveillance has been carried out in private land plots and farms in Khachmaz district. The surveillance revealed that some of the private land plots and farms were exposed to harmful organisms, and the necessary measures were taken to prevent further loss of crops. At the same time, awareness raising campaigns on the rules and use of chemicals were held among farmers in Khachmaz.
According to economist Rashad Hasanov, changes in the Russian market have a direct impact on the Azerbaijani agricultural sector. "95% of Azerbaijan's agricultural products are exported to Russia. From this point of view, the changes in the Russian market and the new decisions made directly affect the Azerbaijani agricultural sector, and farmers, and especially the producers targeted for export, are constantly facing these risks. Naturally, requirement of certificates will ultimately have a negative impact on the volume of exported products as it should be taken into account that the certification phase is poorly implemented in the production process in our country. In 2016, a special decree was issued on bringing the certifications to the contemporary requirements and the procedures to competitive products. Certain steps were taken to improve the relative improvement and reliability of mechanisms in this direction. Under current conditions, a single certificate of export is required in our country. But, of course, individual requirements of each country are of great importance," the economist noted.
He added that all the processes are time consuming. "Exporters, not just in agriculture, but also in other fields, should also take advantage of the relevant infrastructure to ensure that they export their products within the international standards. Obtaining these certificates is one of the important issues. Such sudden emergencies in the agricultural sector lead to the delay in the production process. As a result, farmers incur losses. I think that Russia's new demand will in any case have a negative impact on export volumes in the coming months. At this point, some government agencies should take initiative and help entrepreneurs. In particular, they should give both material and technical assistance in issuing the required certificate. On the other hand, this can have another effect. Thus, restricting the export of products to the Russian market would lead to a downturn in prices, leading to an abundance of supply in domestic markets. Although this is a positive for consumers, it can result in financial losses for producers," Hasanov said.