Rice exporters are looking for government’s support to capture some of the Indian rice exports, worth $260 million, to the European Union (EU), which has adopted a zero-tolerance policy for the Tricyclazole chemical.
Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) Chairman, Chaudhry Sameeullah Naeem, asked for the government’s help to penetrate the EU rice market at a seminar held to increase awareness among their members.
The EU changed their policy of tolerating 1mg Tricyclazole to 0.01 mg in basmati rice from 1 January 2018.
Naeem said that Indian exports to EU might be stopped due to the strict Tricyclazole limit and Pakistan can enhance their exports to EU from 150,000 tons to 350,00 tons. The exports of rice from India to EU are worth $260 million per year.
Indian farmers use a fungicide in more than 70% of basmati crop called Tricyclazole but Pakistani farmers don’t use this fungicide.
“Basmati varieties grown in Pakistan do not require the use of fungicide and we can gain from the restriction on Indian exports,” Naeem said.
This change in the EU’s policy opens the rice market for Pakistan.
Pakistan’s brand can get space by replacing Indian basmati in renowned mega stores of European states with the financial support of the government,” he said. “This presents an opportunity to grab India’s market share because it will take at least two cycles to reduce the consumption of Tricyclazole.
“High input costs have made Pakistan’s basmati totally uncompetitive,” he said and urged the government to extend financial support to the second biggest export sector in order to enable it to become price competitive and bridge the widening trade deficit.
“Rice is the second biggest export sector after textiles but it has always been ignored by the government,” he remarked.
Thomas Unger of Eurofins Global Control GmbH, said “Rice exports to European countries are picking up, but exporters should pay attention to issues like aflatoxins, pesticide residue and new regulations being put in place by these markets. However, complaints of aflatoxins in rice consignments from Pakistan have dropped to almost negligible levels.”