Morocco’s National Food Safety Office (ONSSA) has stepped up the monitoring of Moroccan tomato exporters, attempting to overcome an ongoing Russian ban. Russia imposed a ban on Moroccan tomatoes re-exported from the Netherlands, Belgium, and France on October 30. According to Russia’s phytosanitary institute Rosselkhoznadzor, the ban was imposed after the detection of ten cases of the Pepino mosaic virus in tomatoes grown in Morocco.
Rosselkhoznadzor has warned that the ban will remain in place until Moroccan authorities can clarify the source of infection and implement measures to contain its spread. More recently, however, the head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Sergey Dankvert, threatened a complete ban on Moroccan tomatoes, as well as other vegetables from Morocco, such as peppers and potatoes.
ONSSA, meanwhile, presented its strategy to contain the spread of such infections. The Moroccan agency has strengthened the monitoring of local businesses wishing to export agricultural products to Russia. According to moroccoworldnews.com, stricter measures include mandatory audits, laboratory tests of products, and inspections of storage facilities.
Exporters speak of Russian protectionism
Moroccan tomato exporters have stated that Russia is overreacting and that the virus poses no danger to human health. They described the Russian intent on imposing restrictions on Moroccan tomatoes as a non-tariff barrier by Russia to protect its local produce. They pointed out to the competitiveness of Moroccan tomatoes benefiting from propitious climatic conditions.
As explained on northafricapost.com, Morocco is the third tomato supplier in Russia preceded by Azerbaijan and Turkey.
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