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Exporters urge govt intervention as Saudi Arabia halts Basmati imports

Basmati Rice exporters have sought the intervention of the Centre to take steps to resume export to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia, the second largest importer of basmati halted Rice imports from India since June for non-compliance with its new stringent maximum level of pesticide residues in food items.

Indian authorities are set to initiate dialogue with the Gulf kingdom to seek mellowing of maximum residue level (MRL) norms that are likely to hit exports of mainly Rice, buffalo meat and few other food items.

“The matter is being taken up with Saudi Arabia as the new MRL are not based on scientific facts and are too stringent to be fulfilled,” a senior official from Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) said.

Saudi Arabia’s new MRL norms are not India-specific, though. Rice export to the country has halted since June after a consignment was tested positively for not fulfilling the new criteria for residue detection. Saudi Arabia buys 7-8 lakh tonnes of Rice, primarily basmati, from India.

Exporters warn that the development will significantly shrink India’s share in the global Rice market. India is the largest exporter of basmati, shipping 4 million tonnes of basmati in 2017-18.

 The traces pesticides leave in treated products are called "residues". A maximum residue level (MRL) is the highest level of apesticide residue that is legally tolerated in or on food or feed when pesticides are applied correctly (Good Agricultural Practice).


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