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EghtesadOnline: As the news of Russia returning Iran’s bell pepper export consignments spread recently, officials from the private and public sectors commented on the issue.

While some are contradictory, most comments point a finger of blame at organizations affiliated with the Agriculture Ministry.

Mehdi Hosseini Yazdi, the head of Pesticide and Fertilizer Importers Union, says there are two sets of statistics when it comes to pesticides.

“The set of figures Plant Protection Organization releases pertain to the number or percentage of registered pesticides while the data, which make all the difference, are the ones related to the volume of pesticides used. PPO figures show only 5% of the pesticides [meaning registered ones] in the country are categorized under ‘hazardous’, yet, as far as we know, 23% of the used pesticides are hazardous,” the official was quoted as saying by ILNA.

Hosseini noted that in recent years, Iran has witnessed the return of consignments of raisins, watermelon, potato, bell pepper and saffron, all for the same reason.

“A lot of the hassle will be eliminated if only PPO and other responsible bodies stand firm against contraband pesticides and do not allow spurious, low-quality products to enter the local market. On the other hand, our farmers have not been trained on the precise time when they should apply pesticides, observe their withdrawal period and the amount they need to use on each crop,” he added.

Noting that crops will be affected by the amount and frequency of pesticide application, Kaveh Zargaran, the head of Agriculture Commission of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, says normally, the produce will not reach other countries, therefore, farmers should pay attention to the use of pesticides in the cultivation process.

“Russia enforces strict rules and regulations on food products that enter their country. The permissible level of pollutants is controlled precisely at the country’s points of entry. In our country, however agricultural products are being supplied to the market without being tested for pesticide residues. Therefore, once an agricultural product is returned, we learn that the use of fertilizers or pesticides had exceeded the standards. Of course, products exported to Russia from all over the world face the same issue,” he told the TCCIM news portal.

Zargaran noted that Russian officials in charge of plant quarantine had informed Iranian officials of their new standards and warned about the excessive pesticide residues in Iranian products in a letter six months prior to returning the bell pepper consignments.

“Russia sent back 37 trucks loaded with the product from Daghestan border crossing,” he added.

Hadi Tizhoush Taban, the head of Iran-Russia Chamber of Commerce, said more than 100 truckers, carrying bell pepper consignments, which were on their way to Russia are now in Iran and Azerbaijan Republic’s checkpoints, not knowing what to do.

Kaykhosrow Chengelvaie, the head of Iran Plant Protection Organization, says the neighboring country has banned pepper import from Iran since Nov. 29, citing that four types of pesticides unregistered in Russia were used in their cultivation.

Stressing that the ban appears to be temporary and only pertain to pepper, the official hoped the problem would be resolved soon.  



India Sets New Regulations for Kiwi Imports

Mostafa Daraeinejad, the head of Fruit and Vegetable Wholesalers Association, said on Saturday that India has not accepted Iran’s kiwi production standards.

“Starting in May and June, we received directives from our main export destinations, including Oman, Qatar, India, Russia, the UAE and Pakistan, that they will be putting new standard regulations into effect. Iran’s PPO documents will no longer suffice and if Iranian farmers and orchard owners want their yields to be exported, they must produce according to new standard instructions.”

Daraeinejad said some regional countries, including Turkey, are awaiting our loss of export destinations to take over.

“Russia will no longer return polluted consignments but will destroy them. Paying attention to pesticide and insecticide residues must not be restricted to export products only, those distributed in the domestic market must also be checked for pollutants and residues,” he added.



Iran Pesticide Consumption Against Global Average

Iran’s annual pesticide consumption currently stands at 30,000-35,000 tons on average, the head of Iran’s Plant Protection Organization said.

“Some 25% of this volume are imported in the form of ready-to-use pesticides and the remaining 75% active ingredients are imported to be processed and combined into final products,” Chengelvaie was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.

The official said the government is planning to reduce pesticide imports.

“At present, Iran’s average pesticide use on each hectare is 2.2 kilograms, while the global average stands at 2.8 kilograms per hectare. On average, around 0.35 grams of pesticides are used in Iran for the production of one kilogram of agricultural produce, while the global average stands at 0.65 grams per kilogram,” he added.

Director general of the Environment and Healthy Food Department of Agriculture Ministry says pesticide use in Iran has been experiencing a downtrend.

“This is because biological methods used to fight pests are becoming more and more popular, and the Agriculture Ministry has been carrying out programs to instruct farmers and orchard owners on the correct use of pesticides,” Saeed Sa’adat was also quoted as saying by IRNA.

According to Hosseini, China, India, Turkey, Spain, Italy, Germany and Switzerland are the main exporters of pesticide to Iran.

“Imports from Asian countries are carried out directly to Iran while purchases made from European countries are first transited to Turkey and then exported to Iran via Turkish companies,” he said.


Crops Iran