Basmati rice challenges abound for Indian farmers as EU demands crackdown on fungicides

Farmers sowing Basmati rice in India have been facing big challenges after the recent European Union (EU) decision to bring down the maximum residue limits (MRL) for Tricyclazole in imported rice shipments. Tricyclazole is a fungicide sprayed on basmati paddy crops against leaf and neck blast disease in rice 3 to 4 times that could even be done after 90 days of transplantation. But following the EU decision, the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA) is asking the farmers not to spray it beyond 70-75 days after transplanting of the popular Pusa- 1401 basmati paddy variety. The EU alone imports 3.5 lakh tonnes (lt) basmati rice annually out of India’s total 40 lt exports, with much of it constituting Pusa-1401 and Pusa Basmati-1 rice, said the report quoting Vijay Setia, president of AIREA. According to him, the EU decision reducing the MRL for Tricyclazole to default levels can significantly affect country’s shipments and amounts to a nontariff barrier. He further said that the government should take the matter up as so far there was no report of health-related issues because of the use of this fungicide.