E-coli scares has reached the Kingdom Of Saudi Arabia. The import ban will come into effect on Wednesday June 8th and it would continue until the source of the virus comes clear, minister of Agriculture Fahd Balghunaim. KSA follows UAE Lebanon and Qatar in imposing the ban?the country is trying to show a brave face and refuses to place any blame.
Jabir Al Shahri, assistant deputy minister for Livestock Affairs, said that the ban was imposed on the basis of the information received from the EU, WHO and the European Center for Disease Control.
In a previous statement Balghunaim confirmed that E. coli infected cucumbers that appeared last week in European countries have not entered the Kingdom. ?Due to strict measures taken at the ports no infected produce has been allowed to pass into the Saudi market,? Balghunaim said, adding that EU countries are in no way a source for imported produce in the Kingdom.
However many Saudi agriculture experts said the ban would not have any serious impact on the Saudi vegetable market as the country imports vegetables only from two EU countries – the Netherlands and France.
According to the minister, Saudi Arabia produces 85 percent of cucumbers in the market, with imports of other vegetables mainly from Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. It’s interesting to note that after the e-coli bacteria killed many and hospitalized many, Saudi Arabia lifted its 21 year ban on vegetables from Jordan. The country said that it was anyhow going to resume imports in mid June.
Nonetheless, Balghunaim stressed that it is the responsibility of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) to prevent the entry of food products with questionable safety.
The minister stressed that this is the perfect time to continue the nations initiative to develop and market organic vegetables. He said 53 farmers in Saudi Arabia have already been certified to produce organic produce, 25 of whom were certified last month. The produce is being grown currently on approximately 15,497 hectares.