Relief for Kerala as Qatar lifts Nipah virus ban on fruit, vegetables

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Three months after a ban due to the spread of the Nipah virus, Qatar has again allowed fruit and vegetable imports from Kerala.

In June, the contagious and brain damaging virus had claimed over a dozen lives in Kerala. The government of Qatar says the cause for the ban is now over. After the barrier was imposed, a committee of officials from the food and health ministries of both Qatar and India had been formed to assess the progress on controlling the virus in Kerala.

The development is good news in the wake of Kerala's struggle to restore normalcy after the recent bout of floods there.

The Gulf region is India's largest market for fruit and vegetables, with the UAE being the single biggest importing nation on both counts. Cashew and mango dominate the export list among fruit. India is the largest exporter of mango in the world, with at least 40 per cent of global production. The bulk of Indian cashew is from Kerala.

Fruit and vegetable export from Kerala to Qatar was only 100 tonnes in June, compared to 1,755 tonnes in the same month last year.