Agri Business

Pakistan Basmati rice exports to EU face trouble over pesticide residue

Subramani Ra Mancombu Chennai | Updated on July 08, 2021

Development comes as India takes up the issue of EU’s lower cap on residue levels

Pakistan has begun to face the problem of pesticide residues in its Basmati exports to the European Union (EU). This comes even as India is trying to resolve a similar issue that arose after the EU lowered the permissible maximum (pesticide) residue level (MRL) in such shipments.

Islamabad’s problems with its Basmati exports, particularly due to the presence of tricyclazole pesticide in shipments, has been discussed at least a few times in the last couple of weeks in the neighbouring country.

At a seminar in Lahore on Wednesday, on ‘Maximum residue levels in rice crop’, fears were expressed that the EU could ban Pakistan Basmati rice exports due to higher levels of pesticide residue.

161 shipments rejected

Pakistan media reported that the EU had issued over a hundred alerts in the recent past and rejected a few rice consignments. Similar seminars have been held across the neighbouring country on the pesticide residue issue.

Basmati rice exports value down last fiscal on Iran, pesticide issues

Reports said that the EU and US had rejected 161 rice consignments due to higher levels of pesticide residue, mainly tricyclazole.

On Wednesday, India’s Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar discussed the issue during a Webinar with EU officials, as Brussels has lowered the permissible level of tricyclazole in rice shipments.

Solution for India by June next?

Tomar told EU officials that the lower MRL for tricyclazole was affecting Indian exports of Basmati rice to Europe.

He told the EU that all necessary studies and documents have been submitted in May this year. An official press release said the MRL will be fixed by June next year.

‘Basmati rice being reduced to a generic variety from an exclusive one’

A European Commission (EC) official, who discussed the issue with Tomar, said he would raise it with his colleagues dealing with the issue.

Audit report

India has been facing problems with its Basmati exports since 2018 after an EU audit found residues in 19.3 per cent samples of the 1,128 tested. At least 45 samples exceeded the MRL.

Tricyclazole is a fungicide used to control rice blast disease, but the EU considers the chemical harmful to humans. It reportedly results in lower weight, while increasing the weight of organs, including the liver, in humans.

The Federation of European Rice Millers reported last year that besides tricyclazole, excess residue of thiamethoxam and buprofezin were found in Indian Basmati shipments. Thiamethoxam is a synthetic pesticide used to control insects and pests in plants, but can reportedly lead to liver dysfunction and tumours in humans.

Buprofezin, better known as ibuprofen, is used to control sucking pests, mealy bugs, leafhoppers and whitefly on plants. Excess use can reportedly lead to nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pains.

2017 ban on Indian exports

Indian and Pakistan farmers are facing the problem of pesticide residue as they spray more than what is required.

Pakistan exporters and government officials fear that Islamabad could face the same problem as India did when its rice shipments were banned in 2017 due to complaints of excess pesticide residue.

Then, Pakistan had gained as the EU trade shifted.

Pakistan also formed a committee in 2018 to issue guidelines on the use of pesticides to increase its marketshare in the EU, but it is for the first time that complaints of tricyclazole residue have cropped up.

Rising use of pesticides

Trade analysts said growers were increasing the use of pesticides and insecticides in their eagerness to fetch better prices, ignoring the dangers.

Last fiscal, India’s Basmati exports to the EU increased about 40 per cent to over 3.1 lakh tonnes valued at $264 million, compared with 2.19 lakh tonnes worth $2.06 in 2019-20. In contrast, Pakistan has reported a drop of over 30 per cent in Basmati shipments.

Published on July 08, 2021

Follow us on Telegram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Linkedin. You can also download our Android App or IOS App.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

You May Also Like