The European Union’s stringent norms bringing down tolerance level for tricyclazole in basmati rice imports are likely to severely hit exports of grains from India. Tricyclazole is a fungicide used to protect the crop from a disease called ‘blast’. The EU may bring down the Maximum Residue Limit for tricyclazole to the default level of 0.01 parts per million. Currently, the level approved by the EU is 1 parts per million and level in Indian consignments are much lower. “We are trying to convince EU… even the current level of tricyclazole do not pose threat for consumer’s health and the level is much lower than 1 parts per million,” a senior government official said.
India is the leading exporter of the basmati rice in the global market. The country exported 4.05 million tonne of basmati rice worth `22,727 crore during 2015-16. Of the total exports, around 0.38 million tonne worth `1,930 crore were to EU, according to the data from the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority.
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India exported 2.92 million tonne of basmati rice during April-December in the current financial year, out of which 0.26 million tonne were shipped to EU, the data showed. “95% of the exports would be affected… but we are trying our best so that we can get extension,” a leading exporter said.
The EU is likely to make an announcement regarding this in July. Usually, the norm becomes applicable after six months of the announcement. “For basmati rice, we have got a margin up to a year. So, by the end of calendar year 2018, we can export… we are talking to the members of the EU bloc” the exporter said.
Some officials, however, believe that basmati rice exports to EU would not be affected. “Basmati rice exports to EU would not be down… its just that the cost of testing would increase…The level of tricyclozone varies, its not the same,” an official with APEDA said.
India accounts for over 70% of the world’s basmati rice production. Basmati rice constitutes a small portion of the total rice produced in India.