India's buffalo meat exports to Vietnam under surveillance


India’s buffalo meat export to Vietnam has come under surveillance in that country, due to negligence in health certificates issued by Indian authorities for shipment of the country’s largest export-centric agricultural commodity. Vietnam is the largest market for Indian buffalo meat, with annual import volume of 0.67 million tonnes worth a little over $2 billion, nearly half of the overall $4 billion.

The food safety authority in Vietnam has approved only 32 plants in India for export of buffalo meat. The other processing plants have not applied to for registration and approval. And, those not so registered with the Vietnamese agency have been found to be shipping out buffalo meat, the health certificates not mentioning destinations or the period during which exports can be made. The Vietnamese authority said this contravened World Trade Organization norms.

Therefore, in a notice to buffalo meat exporters, U K Vats, general manager of the government's, Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda), has said, “Of late, it has been observed that health certificates have been issued for plants not approved for a particular country for a particular period. In view of this, Apeda is strengthening its system to ensure the health certificate is issued only for the country which has approved the plants for sourcing of meat.”

Vats added that it had been made mandatory to register Indian plants with Vietnam's authorities by December. There will be no extension in this date.

At 21.4 per cent, buffalo meat enjoys the second largest weightage in India’s agricultural export, after only basmati rice (24.4 per cent). India’s overall buffalo meat export declined marginally in volume to 621,318 tonnes for the April-September period (first six months of this financial year), compared to 629,723 tonnes in the corresponding period last year. In value terms, there was a rise of 1.6 per cent to $1.87 billion for the period, from $1.84 billion in the same period last year.

Last month, the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said it had found Indian exporters of agri commodities violating sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures prevalent in importing countries. “The department of agriculture, co-operation and farmers’ welfare has brought to (our) notice various instances of (such) non compliance...Importing countries have been making complaints against Indian exporters, which amounts to disrepute to the image of the country and that can adversely impact the interest of other exporters, as well as of the country as a whole,” said Rajbir Singh, deputy director-general.

DGFT directed all exporters of agri commodities to follow importing countries' rules, warning of action for those not adhering to the sanitary and phyto-sanitary law of the importers.

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