- A committee of agricultural scientists has been set up under R R Hanchinal to study the claims of Madhya Pradesh and make appropriate recommendations.
- This is the second such committee set up by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) within three months.
- The earlier panel, constituted in April, was headed by B S Dhillon did not favour the inclusion of MP as a basmati-cultivating state for the purposes of GI registration.
- The new panel has been constituted following the state government’s contention that the earlier committee reflected a “breeder bias” towards existing basmati GI areas.
- Therefore the members in the current panel are mostly scientists from outside the traditional basmati-growing states.
- On July 10, when the Madras High Court is scheduled to hear a petition by the MP government challenging an order passed by the GI Registry under the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trade Marks.
- The GI Registry under the Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trade Marks has rejected MP’s claim for inclusion as a basmati-growing state.
- Following this the Madhya Pradesh government had filed a writ petition in the Madras High Court challenging an order passed by Assistant Registrar of Geographical Indications (GI) excluding the State from being granted the GI tag for basmati rice.
- Earlier order, dated March 15, had rejected MP’s claim to include 13 districts as areas entitled to the basmati GI tag.
Why GI status was denied to MP?
- APEDA’s GI application for basmati rested on its supposed uniqueness as a rice grown in a specific region of the Indo-Gangetic plain, situated below the foothills of the Himalayas.
- MP did not fall within this specified geography, being situated far away from the Himalayan foothills.
- ICAR is clear that the grain quality of basmati grown in MP cannot match that of the crop farmed in the Indo-Gangetic plains.
- Premium value of this rice as a result of GI tag has made it a Rs 35,000-crore industry. This may dilute with more and more states staking claim for the GI tag.
What is special about Basmati?
- Basmati rice’s most distinctive trait is its aroma is derived from a compound called 2-Acetyl-1-Pyrroline.
- The accumulation of this highly volatile compound in the grain is largely a function of environmental conditions.
- The aroma retention is best when the plant’s flowering and grain-filling stages coincide with a cool climate, with temperatures below 30 degree Celsius during daytime and just over 20 degrees at night.
- These conditions are available from end-September through October only in the traditional basmati belt.
- Higher temperatures during the roughly one-month period from flowering to maturity can, moreover, impact the grain’s texture and milling quality.
Arguments in favour of MP
- Loss to farmers: Around 80,000 farmers grow about 3 lakh tonnes (lt) basmati every on nearly 75,000 hectares in 13 districts viz Morena, Bhind, Sheopur, Gwalior, Datia, Shivpuri, Guna, Vidisha, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangabad, Narsinghpur and Jabalpur.
- Loss to exporters: Many exporters have established modern rice mills near Bhopal, sourcing the raw material at a relatively cheaper rate.
- Rice millers in MP point out that the state accounts for 50 per cent of the area under Pusa Basmati-1 and 70 per cent of the exports of this particular improved variety to the US and European markets.
- Low cost: While the price of Pusa Basmati-1 paddy in Punjab and Haryana mandis hovered between Rs 3,000 per quintal to Rs 3,350, variety MP ranged from Rs 2,600 to Rs 3,000.
Basmati production in India
- India’s total basmati rice output is roughly 60 lt grown over an area of over 16 lakh hectares (lh).
- During 2017-18, the country’s basmati exports were valued at $ 4.17 billion (Rs 26,870.17 crore).
- 7 lh in Haryana
- 6 lh in Punjab
- 6 lh in UP
0.6 lh in J&K
- 15 lh in Uttaranchal
- 07 lh in HP
About Agriculture and Processed Food Product Export Development Authority (APEDA)
- The Agriculture and Processed Food Product Export Development Authority is a statutory authority under the Commerce Ministry.
- APEDA was mandated in 2009, for Registration and Protection of the Intellectual Property Right including GI in respect of special products in India or outside India.
- Second Schedule has been added to the APEDA Act containing the names of such products for which APEDA has been mandated to take these measures.
- Basmati rice is now a registered GI product with effect from February 5, 2016.
- APEDA as registered proprietor of the GI is responsible to put in place a system for administration of GI and authentication of the product reaching the consumers in India and abroad.
Advantages of GI tag
- ‘One of the effective ways to leverage the unique identity of a product is to obtain Geographical Indication (GI) if the product is suitable for it.
- Geographical indication is an Intellectual Property Right (IPR) which identifies a product as originating in a certain region where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the product is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.
- Unlike other IPRs, GIs are publicly owned by the legal organizations created by the producers of the concerned product.
- Producers of similar products in other geographical regions are excluded from using the GI tag.
- The protection accorded through GIs seeks to prevent illegitimate entities from free riding on the reputation of the protected product.