The General Department of Customs and Excise mobile team at Chrey Thom International Checkpoint in Kandal province has decided to ban imports of six types of vegetables from Vietnam – Chinese cabbage, broccoli, ladyfingers, small lemons, pumpkin and garlic chives.
The decision came after Cambodia Import Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate-General (CamControl) officials in Kandal province discovered traces of pesticides on the six types of vegetables that could cause health problems for consumers.
Moung Dara, the chief of the mobile Customs and Excise team, told The Post on Monday that during the past three days, his team worked with Kandal province’s CamControl officials to conduct quality checks on more than 20 types of fruits and vegetables imported from Vietnam through the Chrey Thom international Checkpoint.
He said: “After the poisonous pesticide was discovered, we seized and destroyed all of it and instructed our Cambodian vendors to stop importing those products from Vietnam.
“But the next day, we still saw the six vegetables being imported. So, our authorities have decided to officially ban the import of them from Vietnam.”
Kandal Camcontrol branch manager Ou Manrin told The Post that agricultural pesticides are commonly used for killing insects and helping vegetables grow, but they can become harmful to consumers if they are not properly decomposed before the vegetables are shipped.
Manrin said: “The pesticides we found on all six vegetables were used to kill worms that eat leafy stems and plant roots. These toxins generally disappear within five days to a week after they react with sunlight and other minerals.
“But if the pesticide only sits on the fruit and vegetables for a few days and farmers harvest them to be sold, poisonous clumps attached to the leaves or stems will harm the health of consumers.”
Coalition of Cambodian Farmer Community (CCFC) director Theng Savoeun applauded the action taken by the authorities to prevent the flow of chemically tainted fruits and vegetables from outside the country.
He said many farmers are expanding their plantations by using natural fertilisers with consumer welfare in mind.
“We cannot ban the import of fruits and vegetables from abroad as local production does not meet market demand. Instead, we ask the government to prevent imports of fruits and vegetables that we cannot produce, or ones that are spoilt or contain toxic chemicals,” Savoeun said.
He called on farmers to increase their cultivation of fruits and vegetables according to the advice of agricultural experts, by using fertilisers and herbal supplements that ensure safety of consumers.
Savoeun also warned people to not take advantage of the opportunity by increasing the price of the foods banned from Vietnam.