Is MP government trying to find a political solution to GI Tag for Basmati rice?

It was the during Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s tenure as chief minister for the first time that the issue of GI Tag for Basmati rice was taken up in 2008. After fighting pitched battles in various courts, Shivraj government now seems to have taking alternative means to benefit about 80,000 farmers of the state.

Madhya Pradesh lost two separate cases in March this year in Madras High Court, challenging the exclusion of 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh from a map submitted by Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

The meeting between CM Chouhan and union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar on Monday indicates that CM Chouhan is not going to give up this battle easily. Chouhan has asked union minister’s help in getting GI tag for basmati rice for MP.

Chouhan is said to have briefed Tomar that MP basmati is exported and earns foreign exchange of more than Rs 3000 crore but it could increase if GI tag is granted to basmati grown in MP’s 13 districts. Sources say that Shivraj is no mood to lose the battle that he started 12 years ago and may use his clout in the union government to convince APEDA. If this is done, obtaining GI tag will not be a big deal for the state, said a senior official privy with developments.
Courts were of the view that basmati rice grew in Indo-Gangetic plains in states like Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, 26 districts in Uttar Pradesh and Kathua in Jammu.

State government had produced ample of evidences including gazette notifications from the British rule that said that basmati rice was grown in about 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh. However, that plea was not maintained in the court.

The controversy related to GI tag for MP grown basmati rice started in November 2008 when APEDA filed an application with the assistant registrar of GI in Chennai seeking GI tag. In 2010, MP opposed APEDA’s move saying that it has excluded 13 districts of MP. These districts include Morena, Bhind, Gwalior, Sheopur, Datia, Shivpuri, Guna, Vidisha, Raisen, Sehore, Hoshangabad, Jabalpur and Narsinghpur.