Exporters of chilli to the UK are counting losses after the country’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) intercepted their products worth millions of francs on grounds that they had virus, only to be declared virus-free two weeks later when their products were beyond salvage.
Chilli exporters have been experiencing this challenge for some time now, but are perturbed how DEFRA never gives them any feedback regarding their intercepted goods after testing.
Dawson Rubanzacumu, one of the affected chilli exporters, said this is the third time his chilli exports to the UK have been intercepted, and in all cases he didn’t get any feedback from the responsible authorities.
“My goods have faced interceptions three times in one month. I got angry and told my clients that if they don’t engage their authority to get feedback, they will have to pay me for my goods, that’s when they released the consignment after two weeks,” he said.
“This was already too late, they even charged us for storage,” he said.
Many of the intercepted exports end up being burnt, with a number of exporters already victims.
Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA) and the National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB) routinely inspect chilli for export, and are all given certification and a traceability code.
“This is a loss-making business and a farm can be attacked by a fungus, this is something that can happen, but it becomes very difficult if we don’t get any feedback on our goods, because you don’t know where to start from rectifying the problem” said Mr Dawson.