Govt seeks mandatory quality test for honey exports

New Delhi: The government has asked the Export Inspection Council (EIC) that comes under the Commerce Ministry to make NMR-testing mandatory for honey exported from India to ensure quality as part of its efforts to boost outward shipments. The NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) screening technique is used to test for adulterations and other manipulations. Industry experts believe that this test will ensure quality of honey and help exporters in getting a better price in the international market.

According to representatives from the apiculture industry, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) – which comes under the Commerce Ministry – had called a meeting of honey exporters on 18 November, and a honey export body was set up. During the meeting, the participants had an unanimous view that the NMR testing should be made mandatory.

“EIC has set up a lab near Mumbai where testing of honey that is to be exported can be done but the services are not available to all beekeepers. Two years ago, honey exporters would get $2,900 per tonne but because of adulterated honey, they get about $1,500 now,” National Bee Board (NBB) executive member Devvrat Sharma told PTI.

After NMR testing, the products will have an assured quality and will lead to higher exports at a better price realisation, he added. “Last year, 62,000 tonne honey was exported. We got a rate of $1,500 per tonne. Our expectation is that after NMR testing, we will start getting a rate of about $2,000 or more per tonne,” he said. Prakash Kejriwal, who is an exporter, said: “Honey from India comes before Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and other honey-exporting countries, and Indian honey from flowers of mustard has a lot of demand internationally.”

“Honey made from flowers of from carom seed (ajwain), litchi, eucalyptus, jamun and others are consumed domestically. Beekeepers get Rs 65-75 per kg for the honey,” he said. Kejriwal said after NMR testing, exporters have agreed to pay farmers Rs 85 per kg. According to estimates, 80 per cent of the honey exported from India goes to the US, 19 per cent to West Asian countries and one per cent to European countries.