The All India Spices Exporters Forum is up in arms over the delay in clearance of import of spices due to the requirement of FSSAI testing and sampling for the imported products.
Rajiv Palicha, Chairman, All India Spices Exporters Forum, said that several members who import various raw materials under Advance Authorisation and EOU schemes for manufacturing valued added products for 100 per cent exports have highlighted at issues associated with clearance of import cargo at Kochi Port.
He said the food safety authority has recently started insisting on sample testing under the Food Import Clearance System for all spice imports for value-added export production and this is causing undue hardship and loss of export revenue for the entire industry.
The Forum has sought the intervention of the Joint Director, DGFT, Kochi in facilitating the release of import consignments under the Advance Authorisation scheme of spice exporters based on the pre-existing norms.
He also requested the authorities to instruct FSSAI to permit clearance of all future consignments and not to draw samples of import consignments as the same was exempted from the Food Import Clearance System of FSSAI.
According to exporters, the spices procured by the oleoresin industry for extraction is of fair average quality — unfit for direct human consumption and is applicable for further processing and extraction process. The FSSAI specification for spices is mainly applicable for spices used for direct consumption (culinary/retail grade). The standards of quality for the finished products from these processes are completely different from that meant for consumption in raw spice form.
The raw Advance Authorisation holders and EOUs are exempted from import clearance through the FSSAI guidelines issued in 2015. The Customs do not even have to refer articles of food to food authority for clearance if such articles are meant for production of value-added products for exports , Palicha added.