95% of the consignments of potatoes that come to Moldova are infected with the bacterium Clavibacter miciganensis. The infection is dangerous for the crop and can cause losses of 100% in production. The sale of infected potatoes affects the consumers from financial viewpoint as not much of the potatoes remains when the affected parts are removed. Specialists of the National Food Safety Agency (NFSA) will request the importers to inform consumers about the presence of the bacterium and, eventually, to sell the infected potatoes at lower prices, IPN reports.
In a discussion that involved importers, NFSA director general Vladislav Cotici said that of 600 samples of potatoes examined since September, only slightly over 50 were compliant. A number of 24 consignments were sent back to the production country.
Most of the potatoes are imported from Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, where the given bacterium is not considered a quarantine object, said NFSA vice director Ela Malai. The Agency placed a list of the Belarusian producers that are not affected by the bacterium. Ela Malai urged the business entities to take this list into account when signing import contacts. The potatoes grown in Moldova are also not fully complaint. Only six of the 19 samples taken in northern districts in 2019 were compliant.
Eugenia Tulgara, plant protection expert of the Agency, said the disease is not noticeable at first, but it draws the potato dark when this grows. The bacterium is transmitted through sick potatoes and through soil, water and insects. It is practically impossible to combat it. The import certificate should show the exporting country was free from this bacterium during the past two years at least.
Olga, Savenkov, of the Agriculture Ministry’s Plant Protection Policies Division, said the legislation on phytotechny was practically fully aligned with the EU legislation and bans the import of noncompliant potatoes.
Consumers complain that they can eat only 2kg of potatoes of 10 kg if these are infected, said Roman Vengher, head of the Chisinau Division of the NFSA. The problem is also signaled by officials in charge of alimentation at schools and kindergartens.
On the other hand, the importing businessmen who attended the meeting complained that they sustain financial losses owing to the multiple checks and because some of the batches of potatoes were sent back and their relations with producers worsened.