Excessive use of pesticides hurts rice exports

Experts warn of possible ban on rice shipments to European Union


APP July 08, 2021

LAHORE:

Experts have voiced fear that Pakistan may face a ban on export of rice to the European Union due to excessive use of pesticides.

At a seminar titled “Minimum Residue Levels (MRL) in Rice Crop” held at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday, they pointed out that the EU had already issued an alert for Pakistan while 161 consignments of rice had been rejected by the European bloc and the US due to a high ratio of residue in the produce.

They said growers did post-harvest spray of pesticides, which was the main reason for the high ratio of residue level in the rice harvest. Only registered pesticides should be used for the rice crop, they emphasised.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjab Minister for Agriculture Syed Hussain Jahaniya Gardezi stressed, “Basmati rice is our pride and its quality is the best in the world.”

He, however, added that the developed world had set strict standards for food safety, citing that in 2017 Indian rice exports were banned due to non-compliance with the standards and the benefit shifted to Pakistan.

The minister stated that the government was well aware of the excessive use of pesticides. In 2018, a committee was constituted which set parameters in this regard. Gardezi said that there was a dire need to educate the farmers. He pointed out that a state-of-the-art laboratory had been established at Kala Shah Kaku and rice exporters should avail themselves of the facility. The minister assured participants of the seminar that the government was taking measures to control the use of harmful chemicals on the rice crop.

LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said that traditionally rice had been the number one food crop of Pakistan in terms of earning foreign exchange for the country.

He said, “The importance of rice in exports can be judged from the fact that in 2019-20, its export stood at $2.27 billion (around 10% of total exports during that year).”

Even during the first 11 months of the just-ended fiscal year 2020-21, the export of rice surpassed the $2 billion mark, he added.

The LCCI chief emphasised, “Considering the importance of rice, we have to take extra care of all the requirements of rice importers, especially in developed markets and the European Union to maintain our regular share in the international market.”

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2021.

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