Brown rot threatens potato exports

Russia has discovered brown rot in a shipment of potatoes imported from Egypt, threatening to halt trade of the crop between the two countries, an Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture official said Wednesday.

The ministry's Quarantine Department is trying to identify the export depot responsible for the shipment.

Moscow temporarily suspended potato imports from Egypt in June 2011 after discovering the bacterial disease in several shipments, but resumed trading in April. Russian experts are stationed in Egypt to monitor exports.

Farmers and traders sustained heavy losses during the suspension as Russia is a major importer. It purchased 460,000 tons of Egyptian spuds last season. .

Head of the Central Administration for Agricultural Quarantine Ibrahim Abbasy refused to comment on the issue, while some exporters expressed fears that the infected potatoes may cause Russia to again shut down trade.  

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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