Pakistani, Indian exporters agree to share Basmati rice ownership

Karachi/New Delhi

Exporters from India and Pakistan 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 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 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.

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