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Rice exporters in India seek European pesticides norms

“In many cases, pesticide manufacturers are unwilling to register their products in high potential markets as they find the process costly as well as cumbersome and that it leads to rejection of export samples,” said a leading rice exporter from Punjab, who did not wish to be identified.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 17, 2020, 11.17 AM IST
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Agencies
Rice exports
Exporters have sought a ban on pesticides used in paddy cultivation that fail to conform to the latest maximum residue levels (MRL) norms in the key export markets.
Rice exporters in India have sought a ban on pesticides that are not registered in foreign markets, a bid to shore up exports to Europe and the United States.

They are hopeful that the Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 will exhort pesticide manufacturers to register their products in foreign markets such as the US and European Union and help boost shipments from India, the largest producer of premium rice.

“In many cases, pesticide manufacturers are unwilling to register their products in high potential markets as they find the process costly as well as cumbersome and that it leads to rejection of export samples,” said a leading rice exporter from Punjab, who did not wish to be identified. “The rejection of samples hits exporters hard and finally farmers as their produce gets devalued by 20-25%.”

Exporters have sought a ban on pesticides used in paddy cultivation that fail to conform to the latest maximum residue levels (MRL) norms in the key export markets.

The Centre is set to amend the Insecticide Act, 1968 with the Pesticide Management Bill, 2020 to help the industry step up to new global challenges.

“The state had sought a mandate to ban the pesticides based on risk factors and their adverse impact on exports,’” Punjab Food and Drug Administration commissioner KS Pannu told ET. He said the aim is to curtail usage of red triangle pesticides or high toxicity in paddy and other crops. Pannu said the campaign to propagate judicious use of pesticides in Punjab had led to a decrease in usage of pesticide worth Rs 355 crore in the last karif season. “Under the prevailing regulatory framework, states could block the sale of pesticides for 60 days but had no authority to ban them entirely,” he said.

Pesticides are sanctioned by the Central Insecticide Board & Registration Committee in India. The Pesticides Manufacturers & Formulator Association of India (PMFAI) has opposed the dilution of the Centre’s authority over sanctioning of pesticides. “It would be detrimental for growth of the industry,” said PMFAI president Pradeep Dave.

The PMFAI has sought compulsory registration of technical grade pesticides of multinational companies to provide a level playing field for indigenous manufacturers. “Export registration of indigenous pesticides should be put on the fast track to realise the potential in global market, which can grow to Rs 40,000-45000 crore in the next four-five years from Rs 18,000 crore at present,” said Pradeep Dave, president, PMFAI.

Basmati rice exports to the EU have shrunk to a third in the past fours as new MRLs have been introduced that have tilted the market toward competitors, including Pakistan. The issue of residue norms has also cropped up in traditional markets such as Saudi Arabia in the past two years.

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