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Thursday December 02, 2021

Harmful pesticide residues a threat to rice exports

July 10, 2021
Harmful pesticide residues a threat to rice exports

ISLAMABAD: Maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides beyond permissible levels on rice are causing a major threat to the export competitiveness of Pakistani rice in major global markets such as the United States, European Union (EU) and Middle East.

This alarming fact was shared by experts in agri-trade, plant protection and food safety in a series of awareness-raising seminars organised in major rice growing areas in all the four provinces of Pakistan by the Ministry of Commerce and the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva,

The traces pesticides leave in treated products are called residues. A MRL is the highest level of a pesticide residue that is legally tolerated in or on food or feed when pesticides are applied correctly (Good Agricultural Practice).

Food safety and the responsible use of pesticides is a major public health consideration in developed and many emerging economies. Developed societies like USA, EU and Japan have zero tolerance for any violation of prescribed MRLs on foodstuff. A large number of countries follow the standards of food safety developed by these developed countries.

The ITC food safety and trade experts highlighted these facts in seven seminars on “Rice export and the challenge of pesticide MRLs” organised in Lahore, Faisalabad, Bahawalnagar, Naseerabad, Larkana and Swat.

Rice export has critical importance for the national economy, and Pakistan ranks amongst the top 10 rice producing countries globally. In terms of export value, rice is the biggest commodity after the textile sector. Major export destinations for Pakistani rice are the EU, USA, UAE, China, Saudi Arabia and Kenya. Pakistan’s annual rice export is approximately 4.0 million tonnes, valuing more than $2 billion, data shows.

Experts informed the stakeholders of the rice value chain in these seminars that the violation of MRLs has resulted in the interception of many consignments from Pakistan to major export destinations, especially the EU and the US.