600 containers of Pakistani rice stuck up at Kenyan ports

Salim Ahmed

Lahore

As many as 600 containers of Pakistani rice are stuck up at Kenyan ports by Kenyan Customs, Samee Ullah Chaudhry, Chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan, said.
According to him, the Kenya Bureau of standards and customs have subjected the containers under scrutiny & 100% verification. This is unfair considering the CoCs are in order – the full verification & sampling of Rice containers reaching Mombasa, Kenya port has commenced since August. This despite appropriate certificate of confirmity at the load port by providing a “clean bill of health” by agencies recommended by KEBS i.e. SGS, Intertek, Bureau Veritas etc.
The containers are being inspected against phytosanitary standards and physical characteristics (Brokens and Damage). The stuck containers causing heavy demurrages and detention and therefore, Landing cost of Pakistani Rice increasing day by day.
Unfortunately, Samee said the Kenyan authorities don’t have the backend infrastructure to expedite the exercise. They have only one lab in Nairobi to do the heavy metal tests whereas our cargo is stuck in Mombasa. This is delaying the testing processes to confirm compliances.
On one hand phytosanitary conditions (Aflatoxin, Pesticides & Microbiology) are tested in Nairobi & on the other hand the broken percentage is verified in Mombasa. Rice is still not allowed to enter into Kenya based on 2%-5% higher broken. For us at reap, it’s a matter of great concern because in agriculture commodity, 2% is considered insignificant variation said Samee Ullah Ch. Broken is considered a grain that is 3/4 or less than its original length i.e. in case of IRRI 4.5mm but Kenyan customs is taking into account 3/4 or more as broken including Tip Broken i.e. 5.5mm or lower being regarded as Broken, he said.
Moreover, the Reap delegation headed by Senior Member and Ex-Chairman, is in Kenya and has met with Kenya Bureau of standard officials and along with Pakistan Commercial Counsellor Mr Zahid Qadeer but the problem seems to aggravate as authorities in Nairobi, Kenya have not instructed their counterparts in Mombasa to come to a resolution by resampling & analysis of the containers in their presence. This is highly unjustified step by Kenyan Authorities as told by chairman reap.
The scrutiny is not confined to containers that are lying at port / CFS’s. Warehoused cargo which has already obtained final release from customs & clean bills of health by KEBS, Port Health, KEPHIS & Radiation is undergoing multiagency testing as well. The agents of the aforementioned enforcing bodies inspect our warehouses to retrieve samples for cargo which has already passed all the pertinent tests to obtain final release from customs, a spokesman of REAP said.
He said that Pakistan is second biggest importer of Kenyan Tea and we have trade imbalance with them. Government of Pakistan has always provided level playing field to Kenyan Tea Exporters for marketing their valued product in Pakistan and expect the same from Kenyan Government. A better step would be to allow importation and sampling be performed at buyers’ warehouses for conformances before commodity is allowed to sell in commercial market. The sampling methodology and mechanism should be fairly determined to give confidence to members that its not Technical Barrier to restrict imports and limit our rice market.

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