PARAMARIBO, Suriname, Friday May 25, 2012 – The Netherlands is threatening to crack down on the importation of fruit and vegetables from Suriname after recent studies have indicated that produce from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country contains pesticide residues that could pose health risks.
The Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority revealed that 162 samples measured between 2010 and 2011 showed that 11.7 percent contained levels of pesticide residue higher that the legal limit.
Amar Singh, a supplier of Surinamese vegetables to the Dutch market, recently expressed concern over the issue and predicted difficult times for Surinamese produce in the European Union.
Legislator Henk Ramnandanlal, a member of the permanent committee for Agriculture (LVV), commented that “Suriname is considered a risk country, which means that we in Suriname have only ourselves to blame.”
Agriculturalist Max Ghazi said that the issue should have been dealt with a long time ago.
Ghazi, a former vegetable exporter from Suriname, now farms in the Netherlands. He said he had informed both the former and current Suriname governments of the potential of this problem, and even offered expertise from the Netherlands to assist both local farmers and authorities.
“I’m not saying that we didn’t do anything, but it’s clear we haven’t been able to safeguard our fruit and vegetable exports to the Netherlands,” he said.
Suriname’s sole food laboratory was destroyed by fire in 2010.
“Eighteen months have passed since then, but the new food safety lab is not finished yet. This would not have happened with good management and a forward-looking policy, and if we had set priorities if we were aware of these problems,” Ramnandanlal stated.
Agriculture Minister Hendrik Setrowidjojo could not be reached for comment. He is reported to be out of the country.