November 14: Finance Ministry has approved a budget of Rs 150 million to set up high-quality labs to test pesticide residue in fruits and vegetables. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development had demanded the budget to set up the labs in Biratnagar, Hetauda and Bhairahawa.
The decision to set up the labs comes after the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies adopted a policy to let in fruits and vegetables imported from across the border only after conducting pesticide residue tests about four months ago.
However, the government backtracked from implementing its decision to conduct the tests due to pressure from India to ease the flow of fruits and vegetables.
The government had concluded it could not conduct the tests in lack of required infrastructure and resources. Hence, the agriculture ministry had sought budget from the finance ministry to set up the labs.
At present, only the Food Technology and Quality Control Department has the equipment to determine the amount of pesticides used in vegetables.
Therefore, the food at the customs points had to be brought to Kathmandu to conduct the tests. The establishment of the three new labs will facilitate this process, say government officials.
Spokesperson for the department Mohan Krishna Maharjan informed New Business Age that the department is also preparing to set up offices in various 12 customs points for screening test of vegetables and fruits.