The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is making all efforts to ensure production of export-compliant basmati rice in the country, according to a senior official from the body. It will be working closely with the governments of seven states that produce basmati rice and run awareness campaigns among the rice farmers for selective use of pesticides in cultivation, keeping in view the target market.
APEDA will participate in 15 workshops in the basmati rice producing states along with agricultural universities, the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA) and the state agricultural departments over the next few months. This development comes at a time when commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while inaugurating the ‘National Standards Conclave’ in Delhi on May 1, has called on the industry to produce quality goods at affordable price to secure higher market access in the foreign countries.
Welcoming the move by APEDA, Rajan Sundaresan, executive director of AIREA, said with the expected improvement in realisation rates of basmati rice in major overseas markets, India will be able to penetrate deeper into world rice markets in near future. Basmati rice, arguably the most premium variety of rice available in the world, has lucrative market in the EU, the US and the Middle East. But exports of basmati rice to some countries are hampered due to non-compliance of technical regulations concerning product standards. Actually, exports of basmati rice from India faced problems due to detection of pesticides residues exceeding prescribed Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs). India’s basmati rice exports to the world, which stood at $3.22 billion in 2016-17, declined more than 7.3% compared to the previous year.
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Speaking to the FE, the APEDA official said recently that the EU has brought down the MRL of tricyclazole (an ingredient used in pesticides) to limit of determination (LOD) i.e. 0.01 mg/kg. So, basmati rice grown in India will not qualify for exports to the EU after January 2018, unless it conforms to the new standards prescribed by the EU. Similarly, the US does not permit the presence of residues of pesticides like Isoprothiolane and Buprofezin beyond 0.01 mg/kg. He stressed that only those pesticides should be used by farmers which are recommended by the state agricultural universities for application to paddy crops.
Additionally, correct dose of the recommended pesticides should be used and pre-harvest interval should be observed as mentioned on the label of the packing of the respective pesticides.