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Rice exporters get 4-month breather from Saudi norms.


Date: 02-09-2019
Subject: Rice exporters get 4-month breather from Saudi norms
New Delhi: Indian rice exporters can heave a sigh of relief, for now. 

They have got a breather till December 31 from stricter rules on shipment of basmati rice to Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Food and Drug Authority had earlier sought test reports on minimum residue levels (MRL), along with Certificate of Conformity from Indian exporters. This was to be effective September 1. That has now been deferred. 

Saudi’s food authority had also sought DNA testing to prove the authenticity of the basmati rice variety, and asked Indian rice exporters to source rice from good agriculture practices (GAP)-certified farms, approved by it. 

“All consignments of Basmati rice shipped from India and arriving in Saudi Arabia by December 31, 2019 shall be exempt from the new requirement proposed by SFDA,” said Vijay Setia, president of the All India Rice Exporters Association. 

Setia said that exporters would brand the different blends of basmati rice according to quality, to bring in more transparency. 

“We have assured the SFDA that if a consignment has 93 per cent or 85 per cent Basmati rice, we will label it accordingly,” he said. 

Saudi Arabia is a major export market for Indian basmati rice and accounts for 20 per cent of the country’s annual exports of 4-4.5 million tonnes. 

Indian authorities have proposed that rice mills having BIS certification, ISO 22000 and BRC standards should also be able to export basmati rice, Setia said. 

However, hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) is the major criterion that Saudi Arabia will take into account to source rice from Indian establishments, he said The deferment in the stringent rules comes after a government and trade delegation led by AK Gupta, director, Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Apeda) held discussions with the Saudi food body on August 29. 

Setia said discussions on MRL will take place in the coming months. 

Indian rice exports have been hurt by various non-tariff barriers, mainly over MRLs in the past few years. Indian companies have been working with farmers to reduce the use of pesticides. 

Source: economictimes.indiatimes.com

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