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Russia bans Pakistani rice imports due to pest

By Staff
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Google Oneindia News

Moscow, Mar 15: Russia will ban rice imports from Pakistan from March 19 after finding a shipment infected with a dangerous pest, the animal and plant health watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said.

''We have discovered a shipment of Pakistani rice containing Khapra beetle larvae,'' Rosselkoznadzor's chief Sergei Dankvert told sources yesterday.

The Khapra beetle is one of the most important stored product pests worldwide.

Young larvae feed on damaged seed, while older larvae are able to feed on whole grains. The Khapra beetle can also damage dry commodities of animal origin. Large numbers of larval skins and setae may cause dermatitis and allergic reactions.

In February, Russia threatened to ban imports of rice from one of its main suppliers, India, from May 1 if shipments were not accompanied by certificates stating which pesticides have been used to treat it.

Moscow used to import 400,000-500,000 tonnes of rice per year until it imposed a tariff of 70 euros (92.32 dollar) per tonne in April 2005. Imports shrank to 300,000-350,000 tonnes after that, analysts have said.

At the beginning of December, Russia stopped all rice imports on health grounds but promised to restart them later under stricter control via a reduced number of ports.

The government has set a seasonal import tariff of 120 euros from March 13 to May 31 and from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31 to protect domestic producers.

Russia harvested an all-time high rice crop of 685,000 tonnes in 2006, compared with 575,000 tonnes in 2005. Of this top rice grower Razgulay produced 375,000 tonnes, up from 133,000 tonnes in 2005.

Besides India, Russia's main rice suppliers are China, Vietnam and Thailand.

Reuters

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