Basmati WARS

Jan 30 2014, 03:15 IST
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SummaryMadhya Pradesh joining the battle for geographical indications gives it a new twist

India and Pakistan not agreeing on whether the fragrant basmati rice is something that can be registered for Geographical Indication (GI) is one thing, to have a difference within different states of the country is quite another. Indeed, adding more fun to this battle, as FE reported Tuesday, the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), which operates under the agriculture ministry, said it plans to oppose Madhya Pradesh’s claim that the rice it grows also be included under the GI tag—if India has to be able to register the basmati GI in the US for instance, as it has done for Darjeeling tea and Kashmiri pashmina, it has to be registered in the country first.

Till now, matters were relatively simple given the handful of states, in north India primarily, that grew basmati—for some reason, however, the registration process was never completed. Scientists in Madhya Pradesh, however, claim that they have grown the exact same strain—with the same grain quality and aroma—and so need to be included. The whole point of a geographical indication, as the name suggests, is that it is native to a region, not that a product grown in another region has the same qualities. With India’s rice exports touching R21,000 crore in FY14, however, it’s no surprise Madhya Pradesh wants to be part of the elite basmati club—after all, it raises the per unit yield.

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