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Now Indo-Pak fight over rice!

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Pakistani rice exporters have alleged that Indian expatriates based in Dubai and London are selling Pakistani basmati rice as Indian origin and at much higher prices.

"Pakistani basmati is not only facing the disadvantage of low price but it is also marketed in huge quantity in consumer packs with an Indian origin label," an unnamed local exporter alleged told the Dawn.

Since India was short of basmati rice, including Pussa variety, its exporters approached the Indian expatriates based in London and Dubai to meet the demand of their buyers, the exporter alleged.

"Our price is rising locally...Dubai and London based millers would market Pakistani variety as of Indian origin because they have a strong lobby in EU," he said without explaining how the Indian expatriates secured Pakistani rice.

Even Indian Pussa, a non-basmati variety in the European Union market, is fetching higher price than Pakistani basmati, the exporters said blaming it on Islamabad's failure to timely contest Indian registration of super basmati for export nine months ago.

Indian Pussa is sold at a price ranging between $800 to $850 per ton, real basmati at $950 to $1,000 per ton in the EU market.

However, Pakistani original super basmati was selling in the range of $500 to $550 per ton with a risk of cancellation of containers if it did not meat the EU standards including DNA testing requirement, the traders said.

"We are still unable to register super basmati with EU, while Europeans are buying our brown basmati rice because of shortage in India but according to EU specs and not Pakistani standard specs," he said.

Indian officials here said that after winning the case against a US company Texmathi for patenting Basmati rice, New Delhi had suggested to Islamabad last year to jointly claim patenting for Basmati varieties to meet the geographical indicators clause.

India decided to go ahead to claim for intellectual property right on Basmati after failing to get favourable response from Pakistan's Commerce Ministry, they said.

Pak rice millers wants their government to contest the Indian claim on Basmati varieties.

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