Rice exporters seek ban on pesticides unregistered in the US, EU

India’s rice export to Europe has plunged by 40 per cent in 2018-19 over the issue of maximum residue level (MRL), and the market is likely to shrink further this year as rice samples has failed the mandatory testing. India had shipped about 10% of its total consignments of basmati to Europe till 2017.

CHANDIGARH: Rice exporters in India, largest producer of premium rice, have sought a ban on pesticides that are not registered in foreign markets in a bid to shore up exports to Europe and the US. India's rice export to these regions has plunged by a third in 2018-19 compared to the previous year with crop samples failing to meet stringent chemical residue norms.

For this, the exporters’ lobby in India, the largest player in global rice trade, has urged the commerce and industry ministry to ensure that pesticides used in the cultivation of rice are registered in Europe and the US too.

India’s rice export to Europe has plunged by 40 per cent in 2018-19 over the issue of maximum residue level (MRL), and the market is likely to shrink further this year as rice samples has failed the mandatory testing. India had shipped about 10% of its total consignment of basmati to Europe till 2017.

“There are six pesticides that are not even registered in India, but there residue is found in rice in India. These chemicals have no fixed maximum residue level set by Central Insecticide Board and Registration Committee,” Ashok Sethi, director Punjab Rice Millers and Exporters Association, said.

These pesticides are ethamidophos, profenofos, prothioconazole, tebufenozide, thiophanate-m and Triazophos. “These pesticides need to be banned till the manufacturers register their products in India as well as export destinations,” Sethi said.

With the growing need for adherence to stricter standards for residue, rice exporters have also sought a ban on use of the pesticides acephate, carbofuran, propioconazole, thiamethoxan, thiophanate methyl, tricyclazole, chlorpyrifos, buprofezin, cabendezim and isoprothiolane. “Manufacturers need to register these pesticides in Europe and USA before they are allowed to be used for rice cultivation,” said Vinod Kaul, executive director of All India Rice Exporters Association.

The concerted efforts made to curb use of pesticide by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), AIREA, agriculture departments in Punjab and Haryana have not yielded desired results. “We made efforts to dissuade farmers and pesticide dealers from use of problem causing pesticides, but the state is not authorised to allow or to ban pesticides,” KS Pannu, secretary, agriculture Punjab, said.

So exporters have now raised the matter with the commerce and industry ministry. “The issue of residue is cropping up in other markets including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, etc., and set to erode the Indian rice trade,” Sethi said.