GI Tags in News: Basmati Rice


  • Following Madhya Pradesh (MP) government’s pressure on the central government for seeking Geographical Indication (GI) tag for Basmati produced in 13 districts of MP, the All India Rice Exporters’ Association (AIREA) has appealed to the government to preserve and protect the integrity of one of the most cherished national produce of India — Basmati rice.
  • India stands tall in the global arena as the only producer of premium Basmati. No other country (other than 18 districts of Pakistan) can call any of its rice as ‘Basmati’. AIREA argues that if MP is included in the GI list of Basmati crop then it will not only harm the reputation of Indian Basmati as a whole, but also the national interest.

When was Basmati brought under GI tag and which is the area where GI tag is applicable to the Basmati?

  • In May 2010, APEDA, a statutory body under the Ministry of Commerce, got this certification for the region located in Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) below the foothills of the Himalayas, spread across seven states — Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Western UP (26 districts) and Delhi.
  • According to APEDA, the origin and reputation of Basmati rice as a ‘long grain, aromatic rice’ from the IGP is found in tradition, folklore, scientific and culinary literature and political and historical records.
  • They said Dehraduni Basmati, Amritsar Basmati and Tarawari basmati all have not become famous in one day as they are producing Basmati for hundreds of years.

When MP does not fall in IGP, then why does it want its rice to be included under the GI list?

  • MP falls in the Madhya Bharat Pathar and started cultivation of varieties of Basmati rice only around the middle of the first decade of this century.
  • The state claims that this rice possesses the same characteristics and qualities as that of the rice grown in the IGP. It also claims that nearly 80,000 farmers of the state are growing Basmati in 13 districts and exporting worth Rs 3,000 crore annually.

Why MP cannot be included in GI Tag?

  • AIREA said that under WTO’s TRIPs (trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights) agreement, physical attributes are not enough for a product to earn GI tag and that reputation linked to the geographical region is essential and imperativ
  • As per GI of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act in 2003, ‘reputation’ to a geographical area is central to the recognition of a GI product and only seven states have that reputation.
  • Even if the rice grown in MP has all the required characteristics (or maybe even better than Basmati rice grown in the traditional growing areas), the same would not still entitle such rice to qualify as Basmati.
  • Just like sparkling wine produced in Australia or California or Italy cannot be called Champagne and Kancheepuram Silk Sari is a GI product, but a Banarsi sari cannot claim a share of the status though it might be as beautiful as the Kancheepuram Sari.
  • Same goes with Basmati and any rice which is grown outside the designated area cannot be called Basmati.

Back to Basics:

What is GI?

  • According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), it is an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product, originating from a specific geographical area due to which it possesses unique characteristics and qualities.
  • GI tag is basically an assurance that the product is coming from that specific area. It’s kind of trademark in the international market.

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