Basmati is top @ export- smell is adulterated
Basmati rice is the most valued export after buffalo meat among agricultural, horticultural, dairy, and meat processing foods.
According to the Agricultural and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority, buffalo meat exports are annually worth Rs 26,681 crore and Basmati rice exports Rs 22,719 crore. Saudi Arabia is the biggest importer of the rice. Non Basmati rice exports are worth Rs 15,129 crore.
Mr A.K. Gupta, director of the Basmati Export Development Foundation, said that India and Pakistan were the only nations that exported Basmati. "Two years ago, the price in the international market was $1,200 per metric tonne which has come down to $850. We are trying to increase awareness among farmers for judicious use of pesticides and use of quality seeds. Europe and the US do not allow products with pesticide content beyond permissible limits," he said.
Basmati rice has got Geographical Indication (name or sign which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin) in seven states — Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi and parts of Uttar Pradesh. Only these states can grow and sell rice using the name Basmati. The varieties grown elsewhere can’t use this nomenclature. Madhya Pradesh has filed a case, contesting the GI tag given to the seven states.
In 2010-11, the Centre allowed export of non-Basmati rice. This stopped the practice of exporting of non-Basmati rice as Basmati. Exporters used to claim it as Basmati to get tax exemptions. "As per Indian standards, 15 per cent of adulteration is allowed. But European countries fixed it at 5 per cent. Iran and Iraq have different parameters," an official said.
Around 40 per cent of Basmati rice sold in local markets and the biryani that is claimed to be made using the aromatic rice served in restaurants, is unlikely to be the real thing.
Consumers spend up to Rs 300 for a kg of Basmati rice. But traders often trick them by mixing in cheaper varieties that cost Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kilo. Dr Anupam Dixit, chief scientist at the Basmati Export Development Foundation Laboratory of the Agricultural and Processed Foods Exports Development Authority in Meerut, told this newspaper: "Adulteration of Basmati sold in the domestic market is very high. Even reputed companies are doing it."
The lab tests more than 1,000 samples of Basmati every year. He said that in several cases the adulteration levels was 40 to 50 per cent. Pusa Basmati 1121 was adulterated with Sugandha 2, Sugandha 3; and Sharbati was a potent adulterant in Pusa Basmati-1.