Rwandan exporters who had sent shipments of chilli pepper to the United Kingdom (UK) market are crying foul after their produce was held for inspection and got damaged along the process.
Speaking to The New Times, Robert Rukundo, Chairman. Horticulture Exporters Association of Rwanda (HEAR) interceptions of produce are normal for safety reasons but noted that this case is unique in that the produce was kept for long for testing by plant health certification agents in the UK and ended up being damaged.
Rukundo said that the spoiled chilli belonged to four exporters and was is estimated at more than six tonnes.
He indicated that the chilli was shipped between July 3 and 10th 2020, but they were declared free from a virus on July 15.
“They were held over virus suspicion. Later, they were found to be virus-free. But the time lag is the issue. Normally, the test procedures are supposed to take no more than five days. So, perishables don’t go beyond that time. But now, it went to up to 13 days,” he said.
Fred Rwigamba, the Director of Finance and Operations SOUK Investment Group, a firm engaging in growing and exporting fresh horticulture produce from Rwanda, told The New Times that on July 9, 2020, his firm exported a consignment which consisted of 466 packs of green chilli, and 336 packs of hot pepper.
Also called habanero, the hot pepper is a type of chilli with a sharply hot and strong taste.
Rwigamba said that the green chilli was cleared, but the hot pepper was held for further testing ‘over virus suspicion’.
He said that the 336 packs of hot pepper – equivalent to 1.32 tonnes or 1,320 kilogrammes – was worth £4,455 (about Rwf5 million) in monetary value.
“We lost all that money. Because it is perishable produce, it was damaged upon its being released such that our client in London could not buy it,” Rwigamba said.
Source: New Times