Sri Lanka is a large producer of fruit and vegetables, with a production of more than 900 000 tons annually, who relies on the exportation of part of its production, including exportation to Europe. However, in the recent years Sri Lanka has been the recipient of numerous interceptions due to the presence of harmful organisms found in fruits, vegetables and other plants of Sri Lankan origin. These interceptions led to audits of Sri Lanka’s Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) by the EU’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE), which took place in 2015 and subsequently in 2016, to assess the official controls and certification system, for plants and plant products, that is in place in the country. The audits determined that although the Sri Lankan competent authorities have significantly improved their current phytosanitary control system, there are still numerous shortcomings. The observed shortcomings resulted in recommendations being presented to the national authorities, including strengthening the organisation of official controls, improved traceability, stricter requirements on pest control, enhanced sampling procedures, improved certification procedures and improved control on packaging materials.
Stemming from DG SANTE’s audits, AETS undertook a Sustained Training Mission to provide assistance to Sri Lanka’s National Plant Protection Organisation, in the scope of its ongoing BTSF contract. The mission aims to, not only, address the identified shortcomings, but perhaps more importantly ensure that plant products being exported to the EU are free of harmful substances and any organisms that are banned in the EU, including complying with EU’s maximum residue levels for pesticide residues.
AETS is responsible for undertaking the following:
- A Training Needs Analysis
- A 5-day minimum training programme related to the EU requirements
- A guideline for performing commodity checks
- An action plan for improving the authorisation and distribution of Plant Protection Products
- Recommendations to disseminate integrated pest management for specific crops and application of Good Agricultural Practices
- Improved mechanism for RASFF notifications and EUROPHYT interceptions.
The task was carried out in 2 missions over the course of 16 working days.