Monday, October 18, 2021

EXPLAINER: Indo-Pak battle over basmati rice in European markets

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A Protected geographical indication (PGI) is part of the European Union (EU) awarded exclusive rights and tags under the geographical indications quality scheme system on food, agricultural products and wines’ imports into the European markets.

Having this PGI tag means that the name of that product has a particular quality, reputation or any characteristic that is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and thus it cannot be imitated by any product grown or prepared in any other part of the world.

Basmati rice has a traditional culinary history in the Indo-Pak region not only limited to its long and aromatic grain but it being featured in classic Indian folklores as well, making this region the sole rightful candidate for the GI.

Its use is extensive in the forms of biryani to pilau – dishes whose principal ingredient is rice and for which the basmati variant of rice is most preferred, across Pakistan and India’s shared culinary landscape.

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Basmati Rice is a household name in what was once the Indian subcontinent and now split among three sovereign countries, and now it is the centre of the latest tussle between the bitter rivals as well.

Since India applied for an exclusive trademark seeking sole ownership of the basmati title and all the intellectual rights in the EU, Pakistan didn’t flinch in disputing this claim setting off a controversy that has so far seemingly fared in favor of Pakistan as the two neighbouring countries have now come to grips with the fact that a joint recognition of basmati branding rights may be the only way forward.

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