New Delhi, June 7: The Basmati rice battle between India and Pakistan has now reached the European Union (EU) with both the countries seeking to get an exclusive trademark for the distinctive long-grain rice. Reports inform that the Basmati rice is now at the centre of the latest tussle between the neighboring nations. According to reports, India has applied for an exclusive trademark for basmati rice to the EU, which aims to grant the country a sole owner of the basmati title in the European Union.
India is the largest rice exporter in the world while Pakistan stands at the fourth position. According to UN figures, India's rice exports report $6.8 billion in annual earnings as compared to Pakistan with $2.2 billion. The two countries are the only global exporters of basmati. Soon after India's application for the tag, Pakistan immediately opposed India's move to gain Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) from the EU. Pakistan Receives GI Tag for Basmati Rice; Tag to Help Strengthen Case Against India in European Union.
In March 2021, the Indian Parliament was informed that applications have been filed in as many as 19 foreign jurisdictions for the protection of Geographical Indicator and Certification Mark for Basmati rice. In a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Commerce and Industry Hardeep Singh Puri said that so far, Certification Mark for 'Basmati' and its logo has been registered in four countries — UK, South Africa, New Zealand and Kenya.
India's move set up a tussle between the two countries as both nations share a culinary landscape that is majorly defined by basmati rice. "It's like dropping an atomic bomb on us," said Ghulam Murtaza, co-owner of Al-Barkat Rice Mills just south of Lahore in Pakistan.
As per reports, Pakistan has expanded basmati exports to the EU over the past three years and the move by India is a major blow for the nation. The co-owner of Al-Barkat Rice Mills was quoted in reports saying that India has caused all this fuss over there so they can somehow grab one of our target markets," said Murtaza, whose fields are barely five km from the Indian border.