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Time to promote production of chemical free and organic Basmati to increase exports

There is a vast scope for the supply of organic Basmati rice in the international market.  Demand of Indian Basmati is decreasing in the countries of European Union because of the Bad Lemon effect as the presence of chemicals and pesticides is more than the international standard. The European Union issued new standards in the pesticides residue content in Basmati for import. Here is a lesson for the growers of Basmati and policy makers for intensive agriculture. Government should promote the production of chemical free and organic Basmati, according to international standards to increase exports. Till date the efforts for chemical free production of Basmati are limited only to farmers and exporters of rice.

India accounts for a lion’s share of Basmati rice exports and credit goes to Haryana. More than 85% of the global Basmati exports (by quantity and by value) are from India.  Haryana contributes 7% of India's agricultural exports and 60% of India's Basmati rice export. In India the Basmati exports is about 37% of the total rice exports by quantity and 60% by value in 2018-19. During the same period, in Pakistan Basmati exports comprised 13% of rice exports by quantity and almost 29% by value.

In the five years between 2014-15 and 2018-19, India’s Basmati exports have increased. From about 36.99 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) in 2014-15, the export of Basmati has increased to 44.15 LMT in 2018-19, an increase of over 19%. In 2019-20, India has exported 44.55 LMT of Basmati worth USD 4.25 Billion.  Covid-19 has affected the outlook for most businesses, including those of exporters. Basmati exporters, however, are a unique exception.

In fact, the logistical hurdles linked to surface and sea transportation following the outbreak of the virus helped basmati exporters marginally, exceed the record 2018-19 exports of 4.41 million tonnes to end 2020 with 4.45 million tonnes.

This is not a small gain considering that back in October, exports of the long grain aromatic basmati rice were down 10 per cent in the first seven months of 2019-20.

In terms of value, India’s Basmati export dropped by 29% from USD 4.5 Billion in 2014-15 to USD 3.2 Billion in 2016-17. However, the exports have gradually increased to USD 4.7 Billion in 2018-19, which is a 47% increase compared to the value in 2016-17. In the five years between 2014-15 & 2018-19, India’s Basmati exports have grown by 4% in terms of value. Pakistan, which has also witnessed a similar trend has recorded an overall drop in Basmati export by nearly 15% in terms of value. We are making comparisons with Pakistan because this country is also a big producer of Basmati rice.

The total area presently under cultivation of Basmati rice is about 7,76,000 hectares in India and its production is estimated at about 11,96,000 tonnes. There is a substantial increase of Basmati in traditional Basmati growing areas. The largest area under Basmati rice is in the State of Haryana (55%) followed by Uttar Pradesh (17.1%) and Punjab (16.1%).

Basmati Rice means the rice varieties possessing aroma and gives pleasant flavour and get doubled in length after cooking. In India Basmati rice is characterized by extra long, superfine slender grains having a length to breadth ratio of more than 3.5, with sweet taste and soft texture.   The Basmati rice is also stated to be the Pearl of Rice. It has a patent of special Geographical Indicator (GI) as the name comes from ‘MITTI KI BAAS”(an aromatic fragrance of soil)  in the northern gangetic region. Karnal and Kurukshetra districts of Haryana have been involved in protecting the name, ‘Basmati’, as a geographical indicator and first seed of Basmati rice was sown in Karnal (including Kurukshetra) belt of Haryana in 1966. In other words, ‘Basmati’ is a term that is restricted to the product from its geographical location. Geographical indicators are a useful concept since they protect native wisdom and traditional efforts and aroma of a special region which cannot be stolen. Basmati is a registered GI in India. However, as per the registry, the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir are the producers of Basmati. On the 16th of February, 2016, Basmati rice obtained the geographical indication certification in the international market.

Major importers of Basmati from India are the Middle Eastern countries. In 2018-19, around 76% of the Basmati exports from India were to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Yemen, and UAE. According to the data released by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), between 2017-18 and 2019-20, the quantity of Basmati exported by India to countries like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, USA, Canada, Australia, Israel, Nepal, Russia, Ireland, and Japan has been increasing in terms of quantity. Meanwhile, the export to countries like UAE, Qatar, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Brazil, Croatia, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Switzerland has decreased consistently.

Source: dailypioneer.com