Pak And India Reach an Agreement to Share Basmati Rice Ownership

July 1, 2021

In a rare show of understanding and solidarity, India and Pakistan, known to be at loggerheads over several bilateral issues, have agreed to share ownership of a special type of rice. Basmati rice is harvested in various regions in India and neighbouring Pakistan. For quite some time, these neighbouring nations were locked in a battle over the issue of ownership. The govts in both countries have reached the conclusion that opting for a shared or joint ownership is the best way to cover the lucrative European market.

Known for its enticing aroma and taste, Basmati rice is consumed both in India and offshore countries. The migrated Indian and Pakistani population in the European countries have also played key roles in making these rice variants popular abroad.

The tussle between Pakistan and India over the origin of Basmati rice has a dated past. The rice variant is cultivated in both countries. India had filed a claim for the exclusive GI tag for this rice variant. Late in 2020, Pakistan had applied for a protected GI tag- in retaliation. However, the nice thing is that good sense has prevailed and now both countries think applying for a joint GI tag is the best way to go. Even the buyers in the EU prefer joint ownership of Basmati rice since they want rice variants from both countries. The rice exporter associations in both countries agree to this view, too.

The EU had recognised Basmati rice as a joint harvest product of Pakistan and India back in 2006. Both the countries earn a good amount of revenue per year from export of this rice variant. India earns approx. $6.8 billion while Pakistan makes about $2.2 billion annually, from Basmati exports. Since the countries are only basmati rice producers globally, they have found it feasible to share the origin and tag for long-term benefits. Besides, the livelihood of farers in both countries relying on Basmati harvest cannot be overlooked.

The stand-off between two nations began when India submitted a claim in the EU seeking GI status for Basmati rice grown in its territory in September 2020. This would give New Delhi a certified monopoly over basmati markets in European countries. As per the EU website, the GI tagging links specific products to specific geographic regions in which it is harvested. It also certifies the tagged product to possess specific characteristics and quality. Pakistan saw red with India’s move and filed a counter petition soon.

After months of simmering tension over the issue, the govts in both countries have decided to find a solution in the form of GI tag sharing. The thing is obtaining a GI tag for basmati rice will help boost the exports to European markets by a large margin. Basmati rice is a profitable export crop which fetches better returns compared to the non-basmati rice variants. As per the data of All India Rice Exporters Association and Union Commerce ministry, India exported basmati rice worth $245.4 million in 2020-21 to the EU.

India would benefit by getting a GI tag for its basmati as the export to West Asia and the UAE has diminished. Both India and Pakistan is keen on capturing the lucrative basmati rice market in the EU. The European basmati rice market is expected to reach $615 million in next 2 years.