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Heavy use of chemicals by Sri Lankan farmers to ripen or protect fruits and vegetables could damage exports, with a few shipments being detected and rejected by authorities in Europe, a senior industry official said.

“Excessive use of chemicals like weedicide is reducing the quality of fruits and vegetables,” said Annes Junaid, chairman of the Lanka Fruit & Vegetable Producers, Processors and Exporters Association.

He said high chemical residue levels in exported fruits and vegetables are a serious issue exporters were facing with foreign buyers.

“High residue levels of chemicals in fruits and vegetables are not acceptable to buyers especially in markets like Europe, the United States and China,” he said.

A few shipments were detected in Europe, he told reporters after the association’s 34th Annual General Meeting.

Sri Lanka itself lacks the facilities to check for chemical residue levels in fruit and vegetable exports, Junaid said.

Some chemicals like ethaphon used for ripening pineapple were carcinogenic.

Industry official said farmers felt they were forced to use chemicals to protect their crops or rapid ripening especially against pests and at times of bad weather.

Junaid said farmers need to be better educated on how to use chemicals and to avoid hazardous practices which could upset consumers.