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RUSSIA is expected to lift the ban on exports of rice, groundnut and sesame seeds from India soon. The ban was imposed in May this year, following alleged detection of pesticides in Indian rice and pests and harmful fungus in groundnut and sesame seeds.

India and Russia signed a protocol on export of rice earlier this week in Moscow wherein India assured that future consignments will be free of contamination. The Russian government has promised India that the lifting of the ban on the three products will be announced shortly.

Russia banned import of Indian rice in May. However, orders booked before the date of ban were exempted. This allowed consignments to be cleared till last month. Since then, there has been no export of rice to Russia.

India, however, maintained that it adhered to international sanitary & phytosanitary norms and the next crop of rice expected in November will be totally free of the identified pesticide. India exports about 50,000 tonne of rice to Russia every year.

Interestingly, India is not the only country to have a ban imposed on rice exports. Earlier last year, Russia’s federal agency of veterinary and phytosanitary control, Rosselkhoznadzor, issued a press release announcing the suspension of rice imports from Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and the US.

Officials from the Russian agency visited India for an inspection in February this year and asked the country to provide safety certificates for each shipment of rice containing information on pesticides used for growing and storing rice and indicating dosages and dates of treatment. The team pointed out that farmers should provide data on the use of pesticides when they take the rice they grow for processing. India said that although data at the farm stage was not possible to collate in the country, Russia was free to test the laboratories and testing facilities in India.

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