ECONOMYNEXT – Poorly designed and multiple inspection procedures are hampering Sri Lankan agricultural exports, raising costs and time for exporters, according to a new study of export competitiveness, which calls for reduced checks and transit times.
“Every hour of delay caused by various procedures adversely affects the quality and competitiveness of perishable agricultural exports,” said the study by Verité Research, a private think-tank, of difficulties faced by Sri Lankan agriculture exporters.
Exporters are hampered by inspection procedures that are not tailor-made to address the special concerns and needs of different types of exported products and are conducted in the absence of measures to assess and manage risk, it said.
“Hence, taking measures to reduce the number of inspections and the transit time is vital to unleashing the export potential of various perishable products,” the report said.
“Being subject to minimum necessary controls and having in place systems to release consignments within the shortest possible time is critical for the export success of agricultural products.”
The Verité Research study highlighted case studies of how excessive controls hurt export competitiveness, covering perishable products such as fruit, vegetables, cut flowers and foliage, and live fish.
These are exported from Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) at Katunayake, north of Colombo, and are checked four times by four different authorities – quarantine, customs, airport security and the air force, the study revealed.
“The physical inspection procedure at BIA, which is designed to ensure export compliance with regulatory requirements, creates unnecessary delays and compromises the quality and safety of exported products,” it said.
Physical inspection is conducted at locations without temperature control. To preserve quality and extend shelf life, certain perishable products are pre-cooled for several hours prior to packing for export.
“At present, boxes carrying pre-cooled products are opened several times by multiple authorities during inspection, exposing the products to heat and compromising their quality,” the study said. “Therefore, conducting physical inspections in temperature-controlled areas is crucial to preserving the commercial value of export cargo,” it said.
“Inefficient procedures reduce the quality and the quantity of perishable exports.”
(COLOMBO, June 22, 2017)