Seized garlic from China to undergo safety tests

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

THE Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) have opened five container vans of smuggled garlic from China to collect samples for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) testing at the Manila International Container Port.

The BOC seized a total of 24 container vans of smuggled garlic worth over P37 million, which arrived in separate shipments from May to July this year, because of lack of import permits.

DA Undersecretary for Operations Emerson Palad said Sunday the garlic samples will be subjected to the required SPS testing at the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) to determine whether the spices are safe for human consumption and free from pest and diseases.

“The laboratory test usually takes three days, then we will turn over the result and the samples to the BOC for their final disposition,” Palad said.

If the seized garlic passes the SPS testing, the BOC and DA may study the possibility of disposing the contraband through the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS) for distribution.

“Should the garlic end up in the local market, it shall further boost the domestic supply and could further influence downward trend in prices, as we expect of the coming in of legal importations in weeks to come,” Palad added.

DA-AMAS facilitated the farmers’ garlic caravan in various Metro Manila markets to offer cheaper local garlics.

Importing garlic without the proper import permits from DA violates Presidential Decree 1433 (Plant Quarantine Law of 1978).

Efforts of the DA to inject additional supplies into the market through the deployment of rolling stores have helped ease consumers’ garlic price woes.

Based on DA’s latest monitoring, prevailing market price of imported garlic had gone down to around P150 per kilo in some Metro Manila markets from as high as nearly P400 a kilo last month.

DA said it expects prices to go down further in the coming weeks following the arrival on Friday of the first batch of the legally imported stocks, for which 280 SPS clearances were issued by the DA-Plant Quarantine Office. (SDR/Sunnex)

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