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Basmati Cultivation- Farming for All

Why Basmati rice more significant to India from other varieties of rice?

1. Basmati rice is seen as a superior and premium brand of rice in India and it is one of the world’s best varieties of rice.

2. It is produced and consumed largely in Punjab and western UP and neighboring Pakistan.

3. It is long grain rice with origin in India and some parts of Pakistan, which makes it part of Indian rice history.

4. India is the largest producer of Basmati Rice followed by Pakistan, it is one of the most significant exports, both as a soft power and hard money.

5. India has a 70% share in global production and 85% of the global trade in Basmati rice.

6. Fragrance, price, grain morphology and quality make Basmati rice stand apart from other rice varieties and it is mainly exported to North America, Middle East, and Europe.

7. Like cheese and wine, basmati rice gets better with age. Older Basmati rice costs are higher than the recently produced ones.

8. The yield of basmati rice is also equal to half of the non-basmati rice and is therefore responsible for its high cost.

What is the present issue related to Basmati rice?

1. Basmati Rice was allowed to produce only in 7 states (Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh parts of UP and J&K) mainly in Indo-Gangetic plain due to restrictions imposed by the Central government in 2017.

2. It was restricted on the grounds to protect the quality and purity of seeds and Geographical Indication (GI) Certification of Basmati rice for Indo-Gangetic plain.

3. This restriction was a bone of contention for several other states. Madhya Pradesh has asserted its rights to cultivate Basmati rice.

6. Delhi High Court (HC) has struck down the Central government’s restriction on production of Basmati rice to certain regions and registration of Basmati rice varieties for areas under the GI Act.

9. High Court verdict came after Madhya Pradesh government petition to include 13 districts under the GI category.

Where does Madhya Pradesh stand in its claim for cultivation of Basmati rice?

1. Madhya Pradesh contributes to 10% of the export demand for Basmati rice.

2. Madhya Pradesh argued that both orders were outside the scope of the Seeds Act 1966.

3. It also contested that the Centre’s 2017 orders intrude upon its powers to pass laws in relation to agriculture which is a state subject.

How is Geographical indication tag significant for Basmati rice?

1. GI tags protect native wisdom, technologies and traditional efforts from being stolen.

2. Basmati rice is one of the most important export items of India, without GI tag it could be cultivated in countries like Vietnam, China, U.S, Europe who may later patent it.

3. This GI protection in India would lead to similar protection in other countries including the European Union and the USA.

4. GI tag ensures that the areas traditionally growing a crop should be allowed and facilitated to cultivate Basmati rice with all the required support.

5. GI is a way of giving a brand value to a product that comes from a community, trademarks are associated with individuals whereas GIs associated with communities, regions and territories.