AIREA President Mr. Vijay Setia, ahead of the visit of an Indian delegation to the EU, has sought Prime Minister’s intervention to resolve the basmati rice issue with the European Commission. “The EU has virtually imposed ban on import of Indian basmati rice by reducing 100-fold the import tolerance level of Tricyclazole. It is not possible to bring down the pesticide level all of a sudden to nearly zero,” said Mr. Setia. The maximum residue limit (MRL) level for Tricyclazole in basmati rice, a fungicide used by farmers against a disease, has been brought down from 1 mg per kg currently to 0.01 mg per kg from the next year by the European Commission. The two aromatic basmati rice varieties, PB1 and 1401 with Tricyclazole MRL at 0.03 mg per kg were accepted so far from India.
A delegation of officials led by the Commerce Ministry is visiting Brussels on July 12 to talk to counterparts in the EU asking for more time. Rice exporters believe that direct intervention by the PM could increase their chances of getting a sympathetic hearing. AIREA, in its letter to PM has stated that a delay in implementing the move will not harm anybody as there is no scientific evidence of the harmful effects of this fungicide on human health. In the US the tolerance level for the fungicide is 3 ppm, while in Japan it is 10 ppm. “We want the EU to give us at least two years more to settle the matter,” pointed out Mr. Setia. Although EU has framed these rules for all countries, India being the largest exporter, would be affected the most.
Joint Managing Director of Kohinoor Foods, Mr. Gurnam Arora said, “We have been exporting rice to the EU for the last 20 years. We also consume it in the country and export it to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the US. There has been no health issues connected with the fungicide so far.” He further assessed, “If the government does not take up the issue with the EU, our business worth over Rs 1,700 crore will shift to Pakistan that also exports aromatic rice to the EU. The new EU norms are unjust and one sided and not in the interest of farmers.” Pakistan exports Super variety of aromatic rice and it does not use Tricyclazole on its crop and is looking at the opportunity to ship more from January 2018. India, the world’s top rice exporter, shipped 3.5 lakh tonnes valuing Rs 1,744 crore of basmati rice to the EU in 2016-17. The country’s basmati rice exports to the EU comprise 10 per cent of the total 40 lakh tonnes undertaken annually, as per the industry data.
Tricyclazole is a fungicide developed by US-based Dow Agri Sciences used to combat a disease called blast affecting paddy crop. Under Indian agro-climatic conditions, it is the most farmer-friendly and cost effective solution to protect the rice crop from blast, exporters say. According to Mr. Arora, even Spain and Italy use Tricyclazole on their paddy crop and the new norm has also affected them. The association has made representation to commerce and agriculture ministries and sought intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter. Meanwhile, AIREA has also started conducting workshops to educate farmers on the EU decision and to teach them good agriculture practices to minimize residue.
Source: PTI (Edited)
Source: PTI (Edited)