Pakistani, Indian exporters agree to share Basmati rice ownership

Pakistani, Indian exporters agree to share Basmati rice ownership

2 countries at loggerheads over issue since 2006 although EU under its rules recognises Basmati as common product


Anadolu Agency June 13, 2021

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PHOTO: FILE


KARACHI/NEW DELHI:

Although long-time rivals India and Pakistan are already locked in a slew of land and sea disputes, exporters from both sides have agreed to share ownership of the region’s prized Basmati rice, the best solution to the issue to reach the EU markets.

India has filed a claim in the EU seeking a geographical indication tag for Basmati rice, a move opposed by neighbouring Pakistan, which has filed its own request for protected geographical indication.

A geographical indication is a label applied to products with a specific geographical origin that has qualities or reputation essentially based on the natural and human factors of their origin.

Pakistani and Indian exporters, however, believe that joint ownership of Basmati is the only viable solution to the dispute.

“There has to be joint ownership, which is a logical solution to the dispute,” Faizan Ali Ghouri, a Karachi-based rice exporter, told Anadolu Agency.

New Delhi and Islamabad have long been claiming to be the origins of Basmati rice, which is largely produced in both countries. The Punjab province, which was divided into East Punjab (India) and West Punjab (Pakistan) in 1947, is the origin of Basmati rice.

“There is no logic in both countries’ claim for the sole exclusivity. Although its origin is Pakistani Punjab, it is grown in both sides of the border,” Ghouri said, adding: “Therefore, a joint ownership is the only viable solution to the long-standing dispute.”

The EU buyers, he contended, also prefer the joint ownership of the rice as they want to keep both New Delhi and Islamabad on board in terms of commodity exports.

“A joint ownership is in their (EU buyers) own interests for two reasons. First, demand for Basmati has been increasing over the past three years, and second, they want an alternative in case one country’s production is reduced,” he added.

Endorsing Ghouri’s views, Ashok Sethi, director of Punjab Rice Millers Export Association in India, said the two neighbours should jointly protect the Basmati heritage.

“India and Pakistan are the only two countries, which produce Basmati in the world. Both countries should jointly work together to save heritage and protect the geographical indication regime of the rice,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“Hundreds of thousands of farmers (on both sides) are associated with the production of Basmati. We need to protect their businesses,” he maintained.

(The Express Tribune)

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