Russian team to visit Sri Lanka to examine quarantine procedures after lifting tea ban

Tea leaves

(Photo by Rashid on Unsplash)

A team of technical experts from Russia will visit Sri Lanka in January to examine plant quarantine procedures in the island country, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said Wednesday.

The move came after Russia temporarily suspended all tea imports and other agricultural products from Sri Lanka after a beetle was found in one of the tea consignments sent from the island country.

The ban, however, will be lifted from Dec. 30 after successful talks between the two sides.

“During the discussion, the Russian side indicated that they were satisfied with the measures proposed by the Sri Lankan side to ensure the shipping of pest-free plant products consignments to Russia,” the ministry said in a statement.

“It was also agreed that a team of technical experts from Russia would visit Sri Lanka in late January or early February next year for familiarization with the current plant quarantine procedure in Sri Lanka,” the statement added.

Russian agricultural safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, placed temporary restrictions on imports of all agricultural products from Sri Lanka, including tea from Dec. 18 on, after it found an insect, known as the Khapra beetle, in the packaging of one consignment of tea from Sri Lanka.

Russia is the second largest tea market for Sri Lanka following Iran. Russia imported 143 million U.S. dollars worth of Ceylon Tea in 2016, which was 11.3 percent of Sri Lanka’s tea exports.

During talks held in Moscow, the Sri Lankan side indicated that there were no records found since 1978 of this identified pest and this was a probable contamination due to the use of disinfested container.

However, the Sri Lanka side assured that it would take stringent measures to further strengthen the current phytosanitary procedures to avoid any repetition, the statement said.