The All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) has expressed serious concerns of rice exporters and rice growers on the virtual ban imposed by the European Union on the import of Indian rice by reducing 100-fold the import tolerance level of ‘Tricyclazole’ – a widely use fungicide in rice cultivation.
Since no new safety concerns on the use of this fungicide have come to light, anywhere in the world, this EU action amounts to a non-tariff barrier to ongoing India-EU trade.
Talking to reporters in New Delhi, senior representatives of leading rice exporting firms in India pointed out that this action which is to come into effect from January 1, 2018 will adversely impact the current ‘kharif’ crop also. It would affect not just the exporters, but also hundreds and thousands of farmers, traders, logistics providers and others in the rice exporting business.
AIREA has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to intervene in the matter.
Tricyclazole is a fungicide, developed by Dow Agri Sciences widely used to combat a disease known as blast affecting the paddy crop. Under Indian agro-climatic conditions, Tricyclazole is the most farmer-friendly and cost effective solution to protect the rice crop from blast. It has been used all across the world for over 30 years with not a single health related incident anywhere.
The EU has asked Dow Sciences, USA the original developer of this molecule, to provide additional information on safety aspects of Tricyclazole. Dow Sciences have commenced studies to provide this information but will only be able to provide required information by early 2019. However, EU has taken the decision to lower Tricyclazole import tolerance level from January 1, 2018 itself.
Vijay Setia, President AIREA, said, “Out of 40 lakh metric tons of basmati rice exported from India every year (amounting to Rs 2,2000.00 crore of foreign exchange), 3.50 lakh metric tons of rice is exported to EU countries alone out of total production of 10.00 lakh tons rice of Pusa Basmati that is procured out of 20 lakh tons of paddy farmers which will directly affect more than 15-17 lakhs farmers livelihood and income.”
“Besides, the livelihood of lakhs of farmers, livelihood of exporters and their employees, adatiyas etc is also dependent on this trade. What is more, Pakistan, being the other basmati rice exporter to the EU, would gain all the business that India would lose. The effect of this virtual ban would thus be ruinous.”
AIREA, in their letter written to the Prime Minister have pointed out that there is no scientific evidence of the harmful effects of this fungicide on human health. A number of other countries like USA, Canada and Japan have placed no such restriction on use of Tricyclazole.
AIREA has on its part has started conducting workshops to educate farmers on EU decision and to impart knowledge of good agriculture practices so as to minimize residue. Farmers’ seminars are being held in many districts of Haryana, Punjab and Western UP, but it would be difficult to stop the use of Tricyclazole at such short notice. If the ban becomes effective from January 1, 2018, it would mean a huge loss to farmers and exporters.
They fear that in such a situation exporting firms would be unable to pay back the bank loan and there would be loss in foreign exchange earnings as well. They have therefore written to Prime Minister Modi urging him to intervene personally in the matter.