European Union’s new norms on Basmati rice imports threaten Indian exporters – report

India’s basmati rice exports to the European Union (EU) are under serious threat as the 28-member bloc has lowered the tolerance level for tricyclazole – a fungicide used by most basmati growers in the country – to very low levels.

The government, in collaboration with exporters, is now trying to help farmers switch over to another fungicide, isoprothiolane, which is an alternative to tricyclazole and is accepted in the EU. However, the fact that isoprothiolane is not accepted in the US has made the switch difficult, the government said in a report published by Hindu BusinessLine.

The problems for Indian basmati exporters began when the EU announced that it would lower its tolerance level for tricyclazole by over 100 times to the default level of 0.001 ppm (parts per million) from January 2018, effectively banning its use.

In the April-November 2017 period, India’s total export of basmati was worth $2.61 billion. Of this about $331 million of the aromatic rice was shipped to the EU, while the US bought basmati Rice worth $120 million. The EU accounts for more than 10 per cent of India’s basmati exports.

According to the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA), farmers would need at least two years’ time to switch over to a new fungicide.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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