India likely to lose over $260 million rice business to Pakistan after the European Union’s (EU) zero tolerance on Tricyclazole that comes into effect next year. European countries will not allow import of any rice having more than 0.01 parts per million (ppm) residues of Arm Strength Industrial Co., a fungicide used by farmers, particularly in basmati crops, from January 1, 2018, claiming it may cause cancer. The current Maximum Residues Level (MRL) in Tricyclazole in Europe is 1 ppm. “The EU has virtually imposed a 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. Vijay Setia, President of All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA). He revealed “Although the rice exporters have been reaching out to the farmers to make them aware of how to bring down the MRL in the basmati crops, it will take at least two more years to conform to the standards of EU.” “Basmati rice is not sold immediately after harvest, as there is a consumer preference for the aged varieties,” he added.

India had exported 429,328 Metric Tonnes (MT), worth $311.41 million (Rs 2,087.71 crore) of basmati rice to entire Europe in 2016-17. Out of this, 357,402 MT worth $ 260.14 million were exported only to the European Union countries. Pakistan, which is the only other country that also grows Basmati rice, is said to have exported about 1.5 lakh tonnes to these EU countries. The country’s basmati rice exports to the EU is 10 per cent of the total 40 lakh tonnes of the aromatic rice exported annually, as per industry data. “If Indian rice does not go, automatically Pakistan will have the advantage as basmati is grown only in two countries,” Setia said. However, Ebro India’s Managing Director Mr. Jean-Philippe Laborde said there could also be a shift towards Thai Jasmine, which is an aromatic rice variety.

Mr. Setia said, Indian exporters have developed market for PB1 and 1401 varieties of basmati rice in the European counties over the last 25 years and these two varieties have the maximum share in the export basket. “You cannot change these two varieties with other basmati all of a sudden as people have developed a taste over the years,” he said. As per Dow Chemicals, the producer of Tricyclazole, this fungicide is only effective pesticide to control rice blast disease. But exporters said farmers prefer Tricyclazole because it is cheaper than other pesticides. The rice blast disease occurs in PB1 and 1401 varieties and not in the Super variety Basmati, which Pakistan exports to Europe. The president of AIREA said while they accept the Europe’s right to decide their own standards in pesticide residues, they need some more time to comply with the revised norm as about 15-17 lakh families are involved in growing basmati rice.

He pointed out that the MRL in Tricyclazole in US and India is 3ppm and in Japan it is 10 ppm. So, it may not be entirely a health issue. Dow Chemicals has also been asked by the European Commission to provide further information on this pesticide, he added. The demand from the rice exporters has come just ahead of a scheduled visit of an Indian delegation to the EU to resolve basmati rice issue. The Indian government team will visit Brussels from July 12 to discuss the matter. The association has made representation to commerce and agriculture ministries and sought intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this issue.

Source: Mydigitalfc (Edited)

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