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Shivraj Singh Chouhan vows to continue fight for basmati GI tag, slams Pakistan for ‘posing hurdles’

The coveted GI tag is a name or sign that corresponds to specific geographical locations. Usage of such a certification on a product would indicate that it possesses certain qualities exclusive to its land of origin.

india Updated: Mar 26, 2018 22:39 IST
Ranjan
Ranjan
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Shivraj Singh Chouhan,Basmati,GI tag
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has vowed to continue fighting to acquire the GI tag for basmati rice grown in the state.(PTI File Photo)

Undeterred by a recent legal setback at the Geographical Indications (GI) registry in Chennai, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has vowed to continue fighting to acquire the GI tag for basmati rice grown in the state despite “hurdles posed by Pakistan”.

The coveted GI tag is a name or sign that corresponds to specific geographical locations. Usage of such a certification on a product would indicate that it possesses certain qualities exclusive to its land of origin.

“The chief minister said state farmers have been producing basmati since 1908. As much as 50% of the rice exported to Canada and America comes from Madhya Pradesh. A few exporters, particularly those from Pakistan, do not want basmati rice produced here to acquire a global identity certification,” a state government spokesperson quoted Chouhan as saying in a television news programme on Sunday evening. “We will fight for our basmati-producing farmers and emerge victorious in the end.”

Chinnaraja G Naidu, assistant registrar of the GI registry, had stated on March 15 that while the evidence filed by entities in Madhya Pradesh depicts the importance and special characteristics of rice grown in the state, it does not do the same for basmati in traditional cultivation areas. “The opponent has, therefore, failed to satisfy the fundamental requirements of popular public perception of Basmati cultivation in Madhya Pradesh as mentioned by the honourable Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in Chennai… A mere plea without the backing of any corroborative evidence has no gravity in the eyes of the law,” he added.

While the respondent or applicant in this case was the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), the opponents comprised the Madhya Kshetra Basmati Growers Association Samiti, Raisen; Narmada Cereals Private Limited, Mandideep, Raisen; SSA International Limited, Mandideep, Raisen; Madhya Kshetra Basmati Exporters Association, Udaipura, Raisen; the additional director of agriculture, department of farmer welfare and agriculture development, government of Madhya Pradesh; and Daawat Foods Limited, New Delhi.

A senior official of the state agriculture department said they were studying the order in detail. “As there is an option to appeal against the order before IPAB within three months, we are seeking legal opinions on how best to do it,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

It has been nearly a decade since Madhya Pradesh began fighting its battle for inclusion into an Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) list of basmati-growing states. It had even won a legal battle before the GI registry in 2013, but IPAB rejected the claim three years later on an appeal filed by APEDA.

Madhya Pradesh claims that it has been growing basmati rice since 1908.

First Published: Mar 26, 2018 22:38 IST