Asia

Russia warns Pakistan of banning rice imports over phytosanitary concerns

Russia has warned Pakistan that it would ban rice imports again if Moscow's phytosanitary concerns are not addressed in future consignments after a quarantine organism was detected in the rice consignment.

Karachi: Russia has warned Pakistan that it would ban rice imports again if Moscow’s phytosanitary concerns are not addressed in future consignments after a quarantine organism was detected in the rice consignment.

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The warning came after Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS) issued a notification regarding violations of international and Russian phytosanitary requirements over a shipment of rice imported from Pakistan.

Dated April 2, the notification highlights the presence of a quarantine organism, “Megaselia scalaris (Loew),” in the rice consignment.

Pakistan’s trade representative at its embassy in Russia was asked to carry out an immediate investigation into the matter.

The Russian authorities have written to the Pakistan embassy to prevent such violations and ensure all Pakistani rice exporters follow phytosanitary standards to ensure the safety of agricultural products traded between the two countries.

The trade wing of the Pakistani embassy in Moscow, while forwarding the Russian authority’s letter to the Department of Plant Protection (DPP) in the Ministry of Food Security and other relevant government offices, has warned of a possible ban on rice exports in future if more complaints were received from Russian authorities.

Russia had previously imposed a ban on rice imports from Pakistan in 2019 because of health safety reasons.

Similarly, in December 2006, Russia stopped the import of rice from Pakistan for not meeting food safety standards.

Chairman of the Pakistan Rice Exporters Association, Chela Ram Kewlani, said that Pakistani rice exporters needed to be very careful in choosing and packaging all rice for export.

He said that Pakistan had benefited from India banning exports of non-Basmati rice last year, given that India has a nearly 40 per cent share in the globally traded rice.

Last year, India banned the export of white non-Basmati and parboiled rice.

According to a leading Pakistani rice dealer, about 700,000 tonnes of rice were exported in December 2023 alone, the highest in a month for the fiscal year.

He said Pakistan exported rice with an increase in higher production and demand and elevated global prices last year.

The Rice Export Corporation is projecting a 60 per cent jump in exports of Basmati rice to over a million tonnes and a 36 per cent jump for non-Basmati rice to 4.25 million tonnes from Pakistan.

It is eyeing exports of above five million metric tonnes of all rice in the fiscal year of 2023/2024, which would be much higher than last fiscal year’s exports of 3.7 million tonnes.  

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