Shivraj Singh Chouhan spars with Capt Amarinder Singh over GI tag for Basmati rice
Basmati rice is grown in about 75,000 hectares in 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh as compared to 2.6 lakh hectares in Punjab.Updated: Aug 06, 2020 22:42 IST
Madhya Pradesh chief minister (CM) Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Thursday condemned his Punjab counterpart Capt Amarinder Singh’s reported letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to allow geographical indication (GI) tagging of basmati rice produced in MP for which the state has been fighting a legal battle for several years.
The Punjab CM wrote to the PM on Wednesday requesting him to intervene in the interest of Punjab and other Basmati growing states which have GI tag for the agriculture produce.
Besides Punjab the other states which have GI tagging for basmati include the states in Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) below the foothills of Himalayas that include Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, as per government reports.
Captain Amarinder Singh in his letter reportedly underlined the export of basmati every year worth Rs 33,000 crore from India and also All India Rice Exporters’ Association’s opposition to MP’s claim. He said if MP was provided the GI tagging it would have serious negative impact on Indian export potential and any such dilution in registration of Indian Basmati might give advantage to Pakistan which also produces Basmati.
Chouhan, now in home quarantine after being released from hospital on Wednesday following treatment for Covid-19, said the Punjab CM’s letter was a politically motivated one.
“I condemn the letter written to the Prime Minister by the Congress government of Punjab. I wish to question the chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, as to what hostility he has with the farmers of Madhya Pradesh? It is not a matter of Madhya Pradesh or Punjab, it is a matter of farmers of the entire country and their livelihood,” he said in a statement.
Chouhan said, “The case of Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) with Pakistan has no connection with the claims of Madhya Pradesh because it comes under the GI Act of India and has no connection with the claims of basmati rice within the country. Basmati exporters of Punjab and Haryana are buying basmati rice from Madhya Pradesh. The central government’s export data confirms this. The central government has been supplying ‘Breeder seed’ of basmati rice to Madhya Pradesh since the year 1999.”
Chouhan went on to say, “It is recorded in the then ‘Scindia State’ records that in the year 1944, seeds were supplied to the farmers of the state. 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. The GI tagging to Madhya Pradesh will stabilize the prices of India’s basmati rice in the international markets and boost the country’s export. Basmati is produced in 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh since the year 1908 and has been registered in history. Basmati rice of Madhya Pradesh is considered very tasty and is famous both in the country and abroad for its flavour and fragrance.”
The state government also issued a statement saying Chouhan has also written to the Prime Minister in this context “referring to the historical connection of Basmati rice of Madhya Pradesh. He urged him to grant GI status to the state’s basmati rice to encourage farmers and basmati rice based industries”.
Madhya Pradesh has been fighting a tough battle on the GI tagging. On May 28, the state government approached the Supreme Court to challenge a Madras high court’s judgment that rejected the MP government’s appeal and another appeal by a Basmati growers association in March this year. The petitions were filed to challenge exclusion of the 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh from a map submitted by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), a part of union ministry for Commerce and Industries for GI tags.
Basmati rice is grown in about 75,000 hectares in 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh as compared to 2.6 lakh hectares in Punjab. The total basmati production in Punjab in 2018 was 1.7 million tonne, almost six times of total basmati production in Madhya Pradesh, according to data provided by the two state governments.