EU extends deadline on fungicide in rice

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    Wed, 31 May 2017
     
    The European Commission has extended the deadline for Cambodian producers of white rice to effectively eliminate the use of the fungicide Tricyclazole in their exports to the EU, the Cambodia Rice Federation said yesterday. Producers of white rice will have until September to meet the revised threshold level of 0.01 milligrams of Tricyclazole residue per kilo of rice, far below the current limit of 1 milligram per kilo, it said. The previous deadline for white rice exports was June, while the December deadline for jasmine rice exports remains unchanged.
  • Council backs EU ban on rice protection product

  • By Max Green

    The EU moved another step closer to banning rice treated with the fungicide tricyclazole last week as the Council opted not to oppose a draft Commission proposal slashing residue limits to prohibitively low levels.
    The plans involve cutting maximum residue limits (MRLs) for tricyclazole from thecurrent 1mg/kg to 0.01mg/kg. By setting the level at the so-called ‘limit ofdetermination’, the new rules would effectively outlaw imports of rice treated withthe substance.
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  • Centre, basmati exporters looking at alternative fungicides to treat rice

  •  Isoprothiolane is good alternative to tricyclazole, but restricted in the US
     

    The Centre is working with basmati exporters to identify alternatives to tricyclazole — a fungicide used to treat rice — as the European Union seems inflexible in its decision to bring down the tolerance level for the chemical next year, effectively banning its use.

    “If alternatives are not found, India’s basmati exports to the region could get hit drastically as the levels of tricyclazole in Indian rice is mostly much higher than the default level of 0.001 ppm (parts per million) that the EU wants,” a government official told BusinessLine.

    The Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), under the Department of Commerce, together with basmati rice-exporting companies, is looking at possible solutions to the problem, the official added.

    No issues with current cap The maximum residue limit (MRL) for tricyclazole, a fungicide used by rice-growing countries to protect the crop from a disease called ‘blast’, is at present fixed at 1 ppm by the European Union.

    Indian exporters do not have any problems staying within this limit, but once the default level of 0.001 ppm kicks in, much of the $3 billion of basmati exported to the EU from India could get affected.

    The industry and government are finding it difficult to zero in on other fungicides that could be used because of a peculiar problem, the official said. While the fungicide isoprothiolane (IPT) could be a good alternative to tricyclazole as it has similar properties and is allowed in the EU, it is difficult to advise farmers to switch to it as the chemical is restricted in the United States.

    So, in order to save the market in the EU, India would have to put at risk its market for basmati rice in the US, if it switches to IPT. The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) is also working on varieties of rice that are resistant to the heat blast disease but it will take time to yield results.

    “Before we are able to have our own varieties of disease-free rice, we have to use our diplomatic skills to sort out the problem with the EU and also with the US if required,” the official said.

    India is continuing to talk to the EU hoping to convince it to change its mind about lowering the maximum residue limit for tricyclazole.

    “The EU does not seem too impressed by the problem Indian basmati exporters may face next year. India is talking to countries like Italy and Portugal, which do not support the EU initiative of raising the tolerance level, to strengthen its argument,” the official said.

    (This article was published on May 11, 2017)
  • MAFF task force set to ban fungicide

  • MAFF task force set to ban fungicide

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) set up a task force yesterday, just 72 hours after the European Commission announced that Cambodia’s milled rice industry must eradicate the use of the fungicide Tricyclazole by June or face import bans.   Hean Vanhan, director-general for the general directorate of agriculture at the ministry, told Khmer Times that the task force will comprise experts from his department and other sections of MAFF.   “They will work together to collect as much information as possible on the use of the fungicide by rice farmers and conduct tests with rice samples collected from local markets to detect the presence of Tricyclazole,” Mr. Vanhan said.   The strict new Maximum Result Limit, by the European Commission, will mean rice must not contain more than 0.01 milligram of the chemical per kilogram of the grain.   The limit was adopted by the commission in February and rice producers are now being set deadlines to comply.   The European Commission said on Monday that rice farmers in Cambodia must stop the use of Tricyclazole by June.   Agricultural representatives from the European Commission also had a meeting with stakeholders from Cambodia’s rice industry on Monday to inform them about the new minimal residual limits for Tricyclazole.   “Europe is one of our big rice importers and we have to take immediate action to avoid any problems,” added Mr. Vanhan.   From September 2015 to April 2016, the European Union imported 261,692 metric tons of rice from Cambodia.   Tricyclazole is used by farmers to control rice blast disease which can be extensive due to the ability of the fungus to thrive under favorable conditions. According to medical research Tricyclazole residues in food can cause cancer in humans.   “Our experts will go directly to the big markets in Phnom Penh to test the milled rice sold by traders for Tricyclazole residues,” said Mr. Vanhan.   “At the same time we will conduct inspections of all licensed fertilizer and pesticide importers to make sure that they are not importing the fungicide,” he added.   Responding to criticism from India, Vietnam and southern European rice producing countries that prohibiting the use of Tricyclazole could significantly affect production and exports, the European Commission said in a directive that: “The Commission’s intention was not to damage the sector but to have a fair and transparent approach, based on science, for all substances in order to protect human health and the environment in accordance with the EU legislation.”   In the meantime, the Cambodia Rice Federation (CRF) also set up its own working group to spread the news to their members, farmers, millers and exporters.   Hun Lak, vice president of CRF, told Khmer Times his federation is cooperating with EU representatives to conduct research in rice-producing provinces nationwide.     “It was a bit of a shock for us when got the news from the EU,” he said. “Currently our rice is not contaminated, but we have to be careful to keep it that way, because the EU market represents more than 50 per cent of our total exports of milled rice.”