Resolution of issues related to Basmati rice urged

Karachi: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCC&I) to include the issues of Basmati Rice trademark and Geographical Indications (GI) besides other issues of decline in exports of basmati rice in the meeting of standing committee on rice on 10th December 2015 and recommend remedial measures to strengthen the cases in the forums.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver requested Rafique Suleman chairman of standing committee FPCC&I on rice to address the issues of basmati rice trademark and GI in the meeting to be chaired by him.

He said both the matters are under litigation and need careful and strong advocacy and the meeting needs to look into the matter and examine the cases and study the arguments submitted by the counsels in both the cases.

As far as basmati rice ownership is concerned it is simple truth that India and Pakistan are the only producers of basmati rice in the whole world and no other country grows basmati rice which is aromatic, elongates on cooking and has distinctive features.

Thailand has jasmine rice which is aromatic but does not qualify as basmati rice because it lacks the characteristics and features of basmati rice, likewise other countries have different varieties of rice but not basmati.

Unfortunately a firm from a non basmati growing country has claimed ownership of the basmati trademark which is challenged by India and Pakistan both in the international forum. The meeting on 10th December 2015 at the FPCC&I needs to examine the progress made in the case.

Secondly the matter of GI is also under litigation in the Indian courts and Pakistan needs to include Sialkot and Narowal and other areas eligible and qualified to be called basmati on merit under the GI. The GI indicates that only basmati rice cultivated at the foot of the Himaliya mountains is basmati and all other rice grown elsewhere cannot be labelled as basmati because it is devoid of the features and characteristics of the basmati variety. The standing committee on rice needs to study the case and take steps to ensure that the case is represented well in the Indian courts and ensure that no omissions are made as it is of prime importance to include every area which comes under the radius.

Thirdly the question of basmati rice grown in other areas with basmati seeds and resultant produce of matching variety also needs to be examined thoroughly.

The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the Basmati Growers Association of Pakistan (BGA) and the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and the standing committee on rice in the FPCC&I need to work jointly for the cause without putting the entire burden on one of the organization and collectively and jointly work for the national cause.

UNISAME is confident that the meeting will surely discuss the decline in export of basmati rice and remedial measures to be taken to enhance exports to non traditional markets and facilities required for export to third world countries.

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