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All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues

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Facilitating smooth export of Indian Spices – Setting of Codex Maximum Residue Limits of pesticides on Spices


ICAR-All India Network on Pesticide Residues, ICAR-IARI, New Delhi

Spices are among the most demanded and expensive products which are primarily used for flavoring or coloring food, and sometimes in medicine, cosmetics or perfume production. India is the world’s largest producer, consumer and exporter of spices which include Pepper, Cardamom, Chilli, Ginger, Turmeric, Coriander, Cumin, Celery, Fennel, Fenugreek, Ajwain, Dill seed, Garlic, Tamarind, Clove and Nutmeg. India exports about Rs. 16, 000 crores of spices annually. Pesticides are used for the management of pests and diseases of spice crops in fields as well as during transport and storage. Due to the pesticide use, their residues are frequently encountered which is a matter of great concern for food safety as well as for international trade. Many times, Indian export consignments are rejected due to non-availability of Maximum residue limits (MRL) of pesticide residues in spices at international level.

Internationally, Joint Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/ World Health Organization (WHO)/ Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) member countries establish science-based food standards to ensure food safety, quality and fairness of international trade. India is signatory to CAC and the National Codex Contact Point (NCCP), India under Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) coordinates the activities of the CAC.

Keeping in view the challenges associated with consumer safety and export of spices from India, the ICAR- All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues (AINP-PR) established linkages with the FAO/ WHO/ Joint Meetings on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) and Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues (CCPR) since 2012 for the fixation of Codex MRLs in Spices.


Process of Fixation of Codex MRL on Spices by India



Under the ICAR sponsored All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues (AINP-PR) and the Department of Agricultural Cooperation, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, India sponsored central sector scheme on “Monitoring of pesticide Residue at National Level (MPRNL)” pesticide residue monitoring data is being generated on various spices since 2008. The NABL accredited pesticide residue testing laboratories located in different parts of the country generated the data as per the ISO/IEC 17025 international guidelines.

Pesticide residue data generated on spice crops by AINP-PR was submitted to FAO/WHO JMPR in 2014-15 by India for risk assessment and evaluation of proposed MRL which was considered in the CCPR meetings. The CCPR established and adopted Codex MRL’s (CXLs) for 19 pesticide-spice combinations on five different spices (cardamom, coriander, fennel, cumin, pepper (black and white) in the 49th session of CCPR held in 2017 (Table 1). The MRL’s were then notified by CCPR for international usage. Most of these codex CXLs have also been adopted by EU.


Table 1. Fixation of Codex MRLs on spices based on pesticide residue monitoring data generated by ICAR-AINP on Pesticide Residues (2012-17) and their adoption by the EU


Commodity Pesticide Codex MRL (mg/kg) EU MRL (mg/kg)
Black Pepper     1. Dithiocarbamates 0.1 0.1
2. Acetamiprid 0.1 0.1
Cardamom     3. Ethion 5 5
4. Chlorpyrifos 1 1
5. Bifenthrin 0.03 0.1
6. Dithiocarbamates 0.1 0.1
7. Cypermethrin 3 3
8. Triazophos 4 4
9. Cyhalothrin-L 2 2
10. Profenophos 3 3
Coriander seed


    11. Phorate 0.1 NA
12. Triazophos 0.1 NA
13. Profenophos 0.1 NA


    14. Dithiocarbamates 10 0.1
15. Profenophos 5 5


    16. Dithiocarbamates 0.1 0.1
17. Phorate 0.1 0.5
18. Triazophos 0.1 0.1
19. Profenophos 0.1 0.1


Thus, the continued effort under the ICAR-All India Network Project on Pesticide Residues has led to Fixation of Codex MRL (at international level)  for the Spices will facilitate smooth export of spices from India thereby increasing the farmers’ income and earning foreign exchange.