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Punjab Farmers Concerned as New Pesticide Residue Norms May Affect Basmati Exports

According to industry sources, the maximum residue level (MRL) for two pesticides used on basmati rice, cypermethrin, and carbendazim, has been recommended to be reduced from 2 mg per kg to 0.01 and 0.05 mg, respectively.

Kritika Madhukar
The government will host a meeting next week to discuss whether to prohibit nine pesticides used on basmati rice
The government will host a meeting next week to discuss whether to prohibit nine pesticides used on basmati rice

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India's (FSSAI) planned modification in pesticide residue regulations for basmati crops may have a negative impact on Punjab production, commerce, and exports.

Despite the FSSAI's proposal to revise the standards to make Indian basmati acceptable to importing nations, particularly those in West Asia, exporters in Punjab believe they would face pressure, potentially affecting basmati producers.

In recent years, West Asian nations like Jordan and Qatar have been particularly rigorous about the maximum residue level (MRL) in basmati, prompting the government here to adjust rules to align with European Union (EU) requirements.

According to state Agriculture Department officials, basmati has already been planted on over four lakh hectares. "The government will host a meeting next week to discuss whether to prohibit nine pesticides used on basmati rice." 

This will guarantee that the MRL remains within the new FSSAI-recommended levels. This would also guarantee that Punjabi basmati is recognized in international markets," said Director (Agriculture) Gurwinder Singh.

The new criteria, which will bring the MRL in Indian basmati up to international standards, may jeopardize its exports. The FSSAI has suggested changing crop residue standards for 18 pesticides used in rice, including basmati kinds.

"The new standard is insurmountable." As a result, exports will suffer. In the foreign market, we frequently debate with purchasers whether our basmati is FSSAI-certified safe.

However, with the FSSAI upping the standard for crop residue, we are concerned that exports may suffer," said Arvinder Singh, an Amritsar-based basmati exporter. The All-India Rice Exporters Association, he claimed, had previously opposed the change in standards.

 However, the Department stated that testing on basmati samples in 2021 revealed that crop residue levels were lower than the EU's MRL. "This was made possible since nine pesticides were prohibited," the Director explained.

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