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Friday, December 24, 2010

What is Plant Quarantine?

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According to the international law, the regulation of a country which imposes a period of time during which a ship arriving in port is forbidden to download goods or passengers because of the suspicion that it may be carrying germs of some contagious diseases is called as quarantine.

We have sufficient evidence of the fact that many diseases reach to our country through imported goods and gradually get disseminated in the whole country. We regularly import many types of agricultural produce, plants, seeds etc. from foreign country. These goods may carry seeds of weeds and microorganisms of various deadly diseases. The Govt of India passed Destructive Insects and Pests Act in 1914 which enables Quarantine Department to check and test imported goods before allowing them to be carried inside the country.

A code of International Sanitary Regulations was added by nations of the world in 1850 in a conference at Paris. Later on, all the nations of the world adopted this code and enforced it in their commercial relations with one another. Plant quarantine relates to the part of the same international code which imposes a series of tests of the plant materials exported to a country before their entry. According to regulations under Plant Quarantine, nothing of plant origin is allowed to enter into a country without passing through a test of sanitation. If concerned authorities are satisfied that the goods coming to their country are safe and are not infected with contagious disease, they issue a certificate to it and allow it to enter into the territory of their country. Plant quarantine stations are usually established at sea ports and air ports through which most of the import and export is done regularly between two countries.

As per the Indian regulations - any agency wishing to import plant species or plant products into India from any foreign land must follow Plant Quarantine (Regulation of import into India) Order, 2003(amended).
Following are the regulations for the permit required for import of plants and plant products -
 (1) No consignment of plants and plant products, if found infested or infected with a quarantine pest or contaminated with noxious weed species shall be permitted to be imported.
(2) Every vessel carrying out bulk shipment of grains shall be inspected on board by an officer duly authorized by Plant Protection Adviser before the same accorded permission to offload the grain at the notified port of entry. On inspection, if found free from quarantine pests and noxious weed species, permission shall be accorded to off- load the grain at the port or order fumigation/treatment of grain on board or immediately upon unloading at the port, as the case may be, before such permission is granted for movement outside the port and subject to such conditions as imposed thereon.
(3) The bulk shipment (s) of transgenic plants or plant products or genetically modified organisms shall be dealt as per the provisions of the Rules for manufacture, use, import, export and storage of hazardous micro-organisms, Genetically engineered organisms or cells made under Sections 6, 8 and 25 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) or under the mechanism established as per the provisions of Bio-safety Protocol by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

Following are the regulations that cover the import of wood and timber -
 (1) Notwithstanding that no import permit is required under these rules in respect of any consignment of wood or timber of plant specified in Schedule VII, no such consignment shall be brought into India unless such consignment fulfils the following conditions, namely:-
(i) the wood with bark shall be fumigated prior to export with methyl bromide at 48 g/m3 for 24 hrs at 21oC or above or equivalent thereof or any other treatment duly approved by the Plant Protection Adviser and the treatment shall be endorsed on the Phytosanitary certificate issued thereof at the country of export; or
(ii) the timber or sawn or sized wood (without bark) prior to export shall be either fumigated as above or kiln dried or heat treated at 56oC for 30 min (core temperature of wood) and appropriately marked as ‘KD’ or ‘HT’, as the case may be, and in such instances no Phytosanitary certificate shall be required, but a treatment certificate issued by the approved agency shall be required to be produced before the Plant Protection Adviser.
(2) All the consignments of timber shall be inspected on board prior to unloading at the port of arrival by an officer duly authorized by Plant Protection Adviser and, if necessary, fumigated or treated on board before unloading: Provided that no such inspection shall be necessary in case of containerized cargo.
(3) The containerized cargo of timber or sawn or seized wood without bark shall be inspected by an authorized Plant Quarantine Officer after unloading of the containers from the ship at the port of container freight station or Inland Container Depots under the jurisdiction of concerned Plant Quarantine Station.
(4) The provision of this Order shall not apply to consignments of processed wood material such as plywood, particleboard, oriental strand board or veneer that have been manufactured by using glue, heat and pressure or combination thereof.
Here are some special conditions for import of plant species -
 (1) In addition to the general conditions listed above in Chapter-II, the plant species herein after mentioned in Schedule-V and VI shall not be permitted to be imported except when specifically authorized or covered under import permit issued by an appropriate issuing authority and subject to such restrictions and conditions specified in this Chapter.
(2) Every consignment of plant species herein specified in Schedule-V and VI shall be accompanied by a Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the authorized officer at country of origin or Phytosanitary Certificate–re export issued by the country of re-export along with attested copy of original phytosanitary certificate, as the case may be, with the additional declarations being free from pests mentioned under Schedule-V and VI of this order or that the pests as specified do not occur in the country or state of origin as supported by documentary evidence thereof.
(3) General conditions shall apply to all consignments including in respect of those mentioned in Schedule V, VI and VII.

The Post Entry Quarantine regulations are -
 (1) Plants and seeds, which require post-entry quarantine as laid down in Schedule V and VI of this order, shall be grown in post-entry quarantine facilities duly established by importer at his cost, approved and certified by the Inspection Authority as per the guidelines prescribed by the Plant Protection Adviser.
(2) The period for which, and the conditions under which, the plants and seeds shall be grown in such facilities shall be specified in the permit granted under clause 3.
(3) Nothing contained in Sub-clause (1) shall apply to the import of tissue-cultured plants that are certified virus-free as per Schedule-V and VI, but such plants, shall be subjected to inspection at the point of entry to ensure that the phytosanitary requirements are met with.
(4) Every application for certification of post-entry quarantine facilities shall be submitted to the inspection authority in Form PQ 18. The inspection authority if satisfied after necessary inspection and verification of facilities shall issue a certificate in Form PQ 19.
(5) At the time of arrival of the consignment, the importer shall produce this certificate before the Officer- in-Charge of the Quarantine Station at the entry point along with an undertaking in form PQ 20.
(6) If the Officer- in-Charge of the Quarantine Station, after inspection of the consignment is satisfied, shall accord quarantine clearance with post-entry quarantine condition on the production, by an importer, of a certificate from the inspection authority with the stipulation that the plants shall be grown in such post-entry quarantine facility for the period specified in the import permit.
(7) After according quarantine clearance with post-entry quarantine conditions to the consignments of plants and seeds requiring post-entry quarantine, the Officer-in-Charge of the Quarantine Station at the entry point shall inform the inspection authority, having jurisdiction over the post-entry quarantine facility, of their arrival at the location where such plants would be grown by the importer.
(8) It shall be the responsibility of the importer or his agent -
(i) to intimate the inspection authority in advance about the date of planting of the imported plant or seed.
(ii) not to transfer or part with or dispose the consignment during the pendency of post-entry quarantine except in accordance with a written approval of inspection authority.
(iii) to permit the inspection authority complete access to the post-entry quarantine facility at all times and abide by the instructions of such inspection authority.
(iv) to maintain an inspection kit containing all requisite items to facilitate nursery inspection and ensure proper plant protection and upkeep of nursery records.
(v) to extend necessary facilities to the inspection authority during his visit to the nursery and arrange destruction of any part or whole of plant population when ordered by him in the event of infection or infestation by a quarantine pest, in a manner specified by him.
(9) The inspection authority of concerned area of jurisdiction or any officer authorized by the Plant Protection Adviser in this behalf, in association with a team of experts shall inspect the plants grown in the approved post-entry quarantine facility at such intervals as may be considered necessary in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Plant Protection Adviser, with a view to detect any pests and advise necessary phytosanitary measures to contain the pests.
(10) The inspection authority shall permit the release of plants from post-entry quarantine, if they are found to be free from pests and diseases for the period specified in the permit for importation.
(11) Where the plants in the post-entry quarantine are found to be affected by pests and diseases during the specified period the inspection authority shall:-
(i) order the destruction of the affected consignment of whole or a part of the plant population in the post-entry quarantine if the pest or disease is exotic, or (ii) advise the importer about the curative measures to be taken to the extent necessary, if the pest or disease is not exotic and permit the release of the affected population from the post-entry quarantine only after curative measures have been observed to be successful. Otherwise, the plants shall be ordered to be destroyed.
 (12) Where destruction of any plant population is ordered by the inspection authority, the importer shall destroy the same in the manner as may be directed by the inspection authority and under his supervision
(13) At the end of final inspection, the inspection authority shall forward a copy of the report of
Post-entry quarantine inspection duly signed by him to the Plant Protection Adviser under intimation to officer- in-charge of concerned plant quarantine station.
(14) The importer shall be liable to pay the prescribed fee for inspection of plants in the Post-entry.

Key words: quarantine, regulations, import, post-entry

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