|India basmati exports to Iran slow amid quality restrictions||
India's basmati rice export pace to Iran has declined to around 55,210 tons in March 2014 from around 130,000 tons in January 2014, due to quality restrictions imposed by the Middle East nation since the beginning of this year, according to data from the All India Rice Exporters Association (AIREA).
Sources in India's Commerce Ministry told local media that since January 2014, Iran has been seeking a series of documents, including the good agricultural practices (GAP), ISO 22000 (dealing with food safety management and packaging protocols) and "non-genetically modified crop" certification, from the Indian exporters. The sources noted that the Iranian authorities also want the Indian basmati rice exporters to get quality approval stamps from multiple global agencies, designated by them. In March 2014, Iran has revised the "accepted level" of arsenic in basmati rice from 150 ppm (parts per million) to 120 ppm and wanted Indian exporters to specify the level of arsenic on each pack for easy traceability.
Officials in the Commerce Ministry of India say the Indian exporters are ready to meet all quality standards prescribed by Iran, but obtaining certifications from multiple global agencies is delaying things, and is affecting the pace of basmati exports to Iran. Local sources say that the Indian Commerce Ministry has invited a team of experts from Iran to inspect rice procurement and processing facilities in India.
Indian basmati rice exporters view Iran as a key market and are planning to adhere to all standards prescribed by the Iranian authorities. India's basmati rice exports to Iran constitute over 30% of its total basmati rice exports. They are also reportedly seeking a single-window clearance for all the export shipments, according to local sources. India has set up a rupee settlement mechanism with Iran from April 2012 to avoid sanctions from the West.
India exported around 4 million tons of basmati rice in FY 2013-14 (April - March), up about 14% from around 3.5 million tons in FY 2012-13. India's total rice exports, including non-basmati exports, stand at around 10.5 million tons in FY 2013-14, up about 3% from around 10.2 million tons exported in FY 2012-13, according to data from AIREA.
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