GI WHIZ

India Today - - NATION -

WHAT IS A GI TAG? An in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty right en­forced un­der the Ge­o­graph­i­cal In­di­ca­tions of Goods (Reg­is­tra­tion and Pro­tec­tion) Act, 1999, GI is a tag as­signed to an agri­cul­tural, nat­u­ral or man­u­fac­tured prod­uct from a re­gion, such as the Kancheep­u­ram silk sari or the Alphonso mango, given to pro­duc­ers. Dar­jeel­ing tea was the first prod­uct to be as­signed GI tag in 200405. It’s is­sued for 10 years from Gwalior state that talks of bas­mati seeds be­ing brought for cul­ti­va­tion from Dehradun. Then there is a re­port from the Direc­torate of Rice De­vel­op­ment, Patna, which points to the cul­ti­va­tion of bas­mati in Cen­tral Prov­inces (now largely MP) in 1908, as well as doc­u­ments show­ing al­lot­ment of breeder seeds of the bas­mati va­ri­ety to MP and the re­sults of tri­als at agri­cul­tural uni­ver­si­ties in the state.

These apart, the MP government is also pre­sent­ing test re­ports of bas­mati grown in MP from re­puted in­sti­tutes such as the Cen­tre for Bas­mati DNA Anal­y­sis, Hyderabad; Re­li­able An­a­lyt­ics Lab, Mum­bai; and Jawa­har­lal Nehru Kr­ishi Vish­wavidyalaya, Jabalpur, af­firm­ing that the rice grown in MP con­forms to APEDA’s norms for bas­mati. MP has also sub­mit­ted maps high­light­ing spe­cific ar­eas within the state that have “agro­cli­matic, soil and tem­per­a­ture pa­ram­e­ters” sim­i­lar to that of re­gions in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Yet its claims have been re­jected. “We have col­lected am­ple ev­i­dence of cul­ti­va­tion of bas­mati rice in MP,” says Ra­jesh Ra­jora, prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary for agri­cul­ture with the MP government. “We are con­fi­dent that MP’s claims will be ac­cepted by the GI reg­istry.”

WHAT IF MP BAS­MATI DOES NOT GET THE GI TAG?

Were MP to not get the GI tag, not just the farm­ers, but sev­eral com­pa­nies that have in­vested heav­ily in rice mills, will suf­fer. Be­sides LT Foods, Nar­mada Ce­re­als and SSA In­ter­na­tional are two other prom­i­nent com­pa­nies that pro­cure and mill paddy them in MP. In ad­di­tion, there are more than 15 other big and small rice mills that have been set up in the state in the last eight years, to­talling an in­vest­ment of Rs 300 crore, says Ti­wari. These mills pro­cure and process the paddy and send it to Kandla port from where it is ex­ported.

“We do not un­der­stand the law but are keen that the farm­ers do bet­ter for them­selves,” says Ra­jesh Singh of Her­sili vil­lage in Raisen dis­trict who is also pres­i­dent of the Cen­tral Re­gion Bas­mati Grow­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. “Bas­mati rice cul­ti­va­tion is our best op­tion as other Kharif crops such as soy­abean have been un­suc­cess­ful. The out­come of this de­bate is cru­cial to us.”

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