Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has expressed displeasure over the GI (geographical indication) tagging of Basmati rice in Madhya Pradesh. In a letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday, he has demanded to stop such activity. Capt argues that GI tagging gives agricultural products their geographical identity. Basmati rice worth 33 thousand crores is exported from India every year and if the GI tagging system is tampered with, then it would not only harm the Indian basmati market but it can directly benefit Pakistan.
On the other hand, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh has also written a letter to the Prime Minister’s Office on Thursday in this regard. Earlier, Shivraj had described the captain’s move as politically motivated. He had also asked what hostility does the Captain have with the farmers of Madhya Pradesh?
It is to be noted that apart from Punjab, other states that already have GI tagging for Basmati are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Western UP, and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir. However, these days the issue of GI tagging of Basmati rice grown in Madhya Pradesh has become a bone of contention between the Chief Ministers of Punjab and MP.
Madhya Pradesh’s claim of getting Basmati’s GI tagging is being strongly opposed by All India Rice Exporters Association and recently Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has also raised his voice against it.
In the letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on this issue, Punjab Chief Minister has said that to protect the interests of Basmati farmers and exporters in India, PM should intervene and stop the authorities from tampering with the system of GI tagging. The letter further claims that under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, GI tag is given to agricultural products that are produced with particular quality and characteristics in a particular area. Basmati with GI tagging in India is given for its quality, taste, and aroma. The taste and aroma of basmati originating in the Indo-Genetic region in the foothills of the Himalayas is known all over the world.
The letter from Captain Amrinder Singh further stated that MP does not fall in this particular area producing basmati, hence it was not included for GI tagging of Basmati. Incorporating Madhya Pradesh into GI tagging would not only violate the provisions of the GI Tagging Act, it would also ruin the purpose of GI tagging.
The Punjab Chief Minister further added that earlier in 2017-18, MP had tried to get GI tagging, but it was rejected by the Intellectual Property Appellant Board. Additionally, even the Madras High Court had not provided any relief to Madhya Pradesh. The Punjab Chief Minister in his letter also pointed out that Madhya Pradesh government’s claim was also rejected by the Committee of Agricultural Scientists constituted by the Government of India.
On the contrary, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan tweeted, ‘It should not be made a case of Punjab vs Madhya Pradesh. With GI tagging, basmati prices in international markets will stabilize and our exports will increase. He said that this is a matter of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority and has nothing to do with Pakistan. He said that basmati cultivation has been taking place in 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh since 1908.’
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh argued that it was recorded in the records of the then Scindia State that in the year 1944 the farmers of the state were supplied seeds. The Indian Institute of Rice Research, Hyderabad has recorded in its ‘Production Oriented Survey Report’ that basmati rice is being produced in Madhya Pradesh for the last 25 years. GI tagging to Madhya Pradesh will stabilize India’s basmati rice prices in international markets and boost the country’s exports.