Lok Sabha passes Bill to protect agricultural products

Sandeep Joshi

APEDA to immediately take up case of basmati rice

Three lakh farmers would be benefited by new legislation

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Tuesday moved a step closer towards protecting Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of special agricultural products, including the famous basmati rice, and saving misuse of famous products and brands from trademark infringement by foreign traders and manufacturers.

With the Lok Sabha passing the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2008, on Tuesday, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) is empowered to take measures for registration and protection of IPR in respect of special products in India and outside.

Recalling the famous cases of copying of Basmati variety by U.S. firms by naming rice grown in Texas as ‘Texmati’ and in Kansas as ‘Kansmati’ which were successfully contested by the Indian government, Union Minister of State for Commerce and Power Jairam Ramesh said APEDA would immediately take up the case of basmati rice and file applications for registration of trademarks or grant of patent.

“APEDA is likely to get ‘Geographical Indication’ (GI) for basmati rice by June 2009, which would help farmers growing basmati and boost exports of this long-grain, aromatic variety of rice..

“Similarly, APEDA would also take up cases related to other special agricultural products like ponni rice grown in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Nagpur oranges, Hyderabadi biryani and Benarasi paan,” said Mr. Ramesh, adding APEDA already managed to get GI for 104 products, starting from Darjeeling tea in 2003.

Underlining the urgency of APEDA taking the case of basmati rice, Mr. Ramesh said India was a major exporter to the U.S., the European Union and West Asia. “In the last fiscal, basmati rice worth over Rs. 4,300 crore was exported. Over three lakh farmers grow basmati rice, mostly in Punjab, Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu. All of them would be benefited by the new legislation.”.

The Minister disclosed that over 300 cases of misuse of Basmati rice brand hadbeen reported from 47 countries, of which the government successfully contested 76 cases. “The new legislation would empower APEDA to safeguard IPR of our other special products and safeguard interests of farmers and traders. In this era of globalisation and open market, it is imperative that India takes proactive measures to safeguard and protect IPR of its products. This legislation would help us in achieving this,” Mr. Ramesh said.

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