Saudi Food & Drug Authority Extend Residue Norms on Basmati Rice to 31st December 2019

Temporary relief for Indian Basmati Rice exporters as Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) extends deadline abiding to stricter pesticides residue norms for Basmati Rice to 31st December 2019. SFDA had proposed new requirement of pesticide residue limits on basmati rice imported in the Country. They followed European Union decision to cut maximum residue limit of 32 types of chemicals/pesticides on imported basmati rice. Basmati Rice exports to Europe have fallen drastically by more than 80% since the new pesticides norms. India cannot afford a similar situation to Europe with Saudi Arabia, as it remains the second biggest importer of Basmati Rice from India after Iran. Basmati rice exports reached new highs in FY 2018-2019 at INR 32,804.19 Crores (USD 4,722.46 Million) and if this deadline would not have extended they would have gone down by at least 15%.  

Indian Government need to issue guidelines for pesticide use

SFDA guidelines included pesticide residue test, certificate of conformity and DNA testing to prove authenticity and purity of basmati rice. Indian Rice millers and exporters have been pleading to the Central and State Government to restrict the use of pesticides including Tricyclazole while cultivation of basmati paddy. The residue left by certain pesticides especially Tricyclazole remains on the final rice after milling of paddy. Pakistan on the other hand exports Super Basmati variety that is grown without use of Tricyclazole. Pakistan has already taken a major share of Indian Basmati Rice in Europe and will be hopeful to capitalize on stricter basmati import norms by Saudi Arabia in future.

Saudi Arabia too huge a market to lose for India

India is the biggest supplier of Basmati Rice to Saudi Arabia. The Indian Government need to find a permanent solution to pesticides used by farmers on agricultural produce. Checking each lot of raw material in Mandi’s for pesticides is a very expensive and impossible task for rice millers. As the world pushes towards organic farming and healthy food, we expect more countries to follow pesticides residue norms similar to EU and Saudi Arabia for not just rice but all food produce.

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