Update on Basmati rice geographical indication demanded

Karachi: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged the Secretary Ministry of Commerce (MINCOM) to update on the geographical indication (GI) of Basmati rice and if necessary to file revised application with the GI registry for including areas omitted by the committee inadvertently but nevertheless harmful to basmati stakeholders.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver urged MINCOM to take serious notice of the statement and propagation of the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Development Authority (APEDA) a statuary body of India which is restricting GI to the areas best suited to India and curtailing the areas in Pakistan to reduce the scope of Pakistani basmati.

The APEDA states that basmati is a GI as defined under article 22 of the TRIPS agreement and therefore cannot be registered or appropriated as a trade mark or a part thereof. The right to use the name Basmati vests only with the growers, processors, farmers and traders of Basmati grown in the geographical area.

Thaver pointed out that aromatic basmati rice is grown in many areas of Pakistan and the basmati grown in these areas possesses the inherent unique characteristics and features of Basmati rice and any restrictions to its declaration and definition based on merit would amount to undermining its worth.

He said due to the lack of focus and persuasion of the ministers in the earlier governments the Indian rice lobby prevailed and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the MINCOM and the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) were unable to comprehend the consequences of the Indian GI and the aggressive approach of India to the GI and marking of the geographical area. The union kept telling them time and again of the importance of clarifying the geographical indications in the region so as not to exclude the areas which are growing Basmati rice since many years but they ignored the warnings of the union.

UNISAME has invited the attention of MINCOM to the urgent need to file amendment and protect the bonafide basmati growing areas in Pakistan.

Time is the essence and MINCOM needs to expedite the matter before it is too late and before the decision of the international forum.

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