Amid Madhya Pradesh government’s push for the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for basmati rice, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his personal intervention against allowing this in the larger interest of Punjab and other States which are already basmati GI tagged.
Apart from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir have GI tagging for basmati.
The Chief Minister said India exported basmati to the tune of ₹33,000 crore every year.
Any dilution in registration may give advantage to Pakistan (which also produces basmati as per GI tagging) in the international market in terms of basmati characteristics, quality parameters.
Also read: Madras High Court dismisses Madhya Pradesh’s plea on GI tag for basmati rice
The Chief Minister, in his letter, has said GI tagging of Madhya Pradesh basmati would negatively impact the State’s agriculture and India’s basmati exports. Madhya Pradesh has sought inclusion of its 13 districts for GI tagging for basmati.
Urging Mr. Modi to direct the authorities not to disturb the status quo in this matter, the Chief Minister said this was essential for safeguarding the interests of farmers and basmati exporters of India.
Place of origin
“As per the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 a geographical indication tag can be issued for agricultural goods that are originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin. GI tag for basmati has been given on the basis of the traditionally grown areas of basmati due to special aroma, quality and taste of the grain, which is indigenous to the region below the foothills of Himalayas in the Indo-Gangetic Plains and basmati of this area has distinct recognition across the world,” the Chief Minister has pointed out.
Also read: Indian basmati rice all set to get GI tag
Capt. Singh said Madhya Pradesh did not fall under the specialised zone for basmati cultivation. “It was for this reason that the State was not included in the indigenous area of basmati cultivation in India.” Madhya Pradesh’s move is a direct violation of the GI tagging procedure and laws. Any attempt to breach the GI tagging areas will not only hit the status of aromatic basmati cultivation in India’s specialised areas but will also negate the purpose of GI tagging regulation in the Indian context.
The Chief Minister said Madhya Pradesh had earlier attempted to get the GI tag for basmati cultivation in 2017-18. However, Registrar of Geographical Indications (RGI), constituted under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registrations and Protection) Act 1999, rejected the demand after investigating the matter. The Intellectual Property Appellate Board, Government of India, had also discarded the State’s claim. Later, Madhya Pradesh challenged these decisions in Madras High Court, but did not get any relief.
“The Central government had also constituted a committee of eminent agricultural scientists, which, after thorough deliberations, rejected the State’s claim,” said Captain Singh.