India urges basmati rice exporters to adhere to EU norms; exports set to grow

The Indian government has urged rice exporters to conform to the pesticides standards of the European Union (EU) for shipments to the bloc, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

The European Commission had reduced maximum residues level for Tricyclazole to 0.01 parts per million (ppm) from 1 ppm for all crops effective January 1, 2018. Import of any agricultural product with a higher reading would not be permitted in the EU.

Tricyclazole is a fungicide used by farmers, particularly in basmati varieties PB1 and Pusa 1401, which have the highest share in the export basket to European Union.

India’s basmati exports to the EU had declined around 60% from a year earlier to 1.62 lakh tonnes during April-December 2018.

The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority asked exporters and laboratories to ensure that the rice samples are drawn in accordance with internationally accepted methods for the determination of pesticide residues.

The agri-export promotion body, in its notification for the online registration of basmati export contracts, asked exporters to get the tests done at NABL-accredited laboratories for obtaining registration-cum-allocation certificates.

“For exporting rice to the EU, farmers will have to adhere to the norms. There will be no relaxation,” said a senior agriculture department official.

However, basmati rice exports from India during the current fiscal year are set to grow by a tenth in dollar value terms over last year on higher realisations, said a top official of Basmati Export Development Foundation, under the Agricultural and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority (APEDA).

According to the latest data, basmati exports grew by 9 per cent in dollar value to $3.6 billion during April-January period as against $3.31 billion in the same period last year. However, in rupee terms the growth was higher at Rs 24,919 crore (as against Rs 21,319 crore last year) at close to 17% for the period, aided by a weaker rupee.

In volume terms, the shipments for the period were marginally higher at 3.36 million tonnes as against 3.27 million tonnes. So far, average per-unit realisations have been about 6% higher at $1,070 per tonne as against $1,010 per tonne in the previous year.

Basmati exports during 2017-18 stood at 4.05 million tonnes valued at $4.17 billion.

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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