Russia bans rice imports from India claiming pesticide contamination

Published: Saturday 30 June 2007

russia has banned import of rice from India. The decision came after Russia's monitoring agencies claimed to have found a pesticide--dimethoate--which is not allowed under Russian laws. "The Russian Agency on Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance issued a notification in April imposing a ban on rice import from India due to the purported detection of pesticides," said Jairam Ramesh, Union minister of state for commerce.

India is the biggest rice exporter to Russia. In 2005-06, it exported 24,956 tonnes, about 1.5 per cent of the total exports from the country. Dimethoate is not allowed in rice in India as well. The regulations of the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, the apex body for pesticide registration and approvals, do not allow dimethoate in rice cultivation. Therefore, the residues could have legal implications.

The Union commerce ministry and the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (apeda), a body under it, are currently trying to get the ban lifted. "We have informed the Russians about a numbers of things we have been working on with the basmati farmers," says S Dave, director, apeda.

In December 2006, Russia had imposed a similar ban on imports from India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Subsequently, in February 2007, a delegation from the Russian authority visited India. "We signed a protocol with them and told them about our efforts," says Dave. According to Ramesh, the ban violates that protocol and the ministry is taking that up with its Russian counterpart. Officials say exports to Russia are only a small portion of the total pie but the ban means bad publicity and denies access to markets.

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