Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to allow geographical indication (GI) tagging of basmati to Madhya Pradesh, in the larger interest of Punjab and other states that already have GI tag for basmati.
Apart from Punjab, other states that already have GI tagging for basmati are Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi, western UP, and select districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
In a letter to the PM, the Chief Minister also said the All India Rice Exporters' Association is also opposed to considering any claim of MP for GI tag for basmati, raising concerns about its serious negative impact on Indian export potential.
He said India exports basmati to the tune of Rs 33,000 crore every year and any dilution in registration of Indian basmati may give advantage to Pakistan (which also produces basmati as per GI tagging) in the international market in terms of characteristics and quality parameters.
Madhya Pradesh has sought inclusion of its 13 districts for GI tagging for basmati.
Urging PM Modi to direct the concerned authorities not to disturb the status quo in this matter, the chief minister said this was essential for safeguarding the interests of farmers and basmati exporters of India.
As per the geographical indications of the Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999, a GI tag "can be issued for agricultural goods that are originating in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin".
GI tag has been given on the basis of traditionally grown areas of basmati due to special aroma, quality and taste of the grain, which are indigenous to the region below the foothills of Himalayas, and basmati of this area has distinct recognition across the world, Mr Singh said an official release here.
The Punjab chief minister claimed that Madhya Pradesh "does not fall under the specialised zone for Basmati cultivation".
It was for this reason that Madhya Pradesh was not included in the indigenous area of basmati cultivation in the history of India, he said.