KARACHI: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) to highlight the issues of basmati rice trademark and geographical indications (GI) besides other issues of decline in exports of basmati rice.
UNISAME wants FPCCI’s Standing Committee on Rice to highlight these issues in its meeting on 10th December 2015. It also recommends remedial measures to strengthen the cases in the forum.
UNISAME President Zulfikar Thaver requested FPCCI Standing Committee on Rice Chairman Rafique Suleman to address the issues of basmati rice trademark and GI in the meeting. He said both the matters are under litigation and need careful and strong advocacy and that the meeting needs to look into the matter and examine the cases submitted by the counsels.
As far as basmati rice ownership is concerned, he said that India and Pakistan are the only producers of basmati rice in the whole world and no other country grows basmati, which is aromatic, elongates on cooking and has distinctive features.
“Thailand has jasmine rice, which is aromatic but does not have qualify of basmati rice as it lacks certain characteristics and features,” he added.
Unfortunately, a firm from a non-basmati growing country has claimed ownership of the basmati trademark, which is challenged by India and Pakistan in the international forum, he said.
“The matter of GI is also under litigation in the Indian courts and Pakistan needs to include Sialkot and Narowal areas eligible and qualified to be called basmati on merit under the GI, the UNISAME president said.
“The GI indicates that only basmati rice cultivated at the foot of the Himaliya mountains is basmati and all other rice grown elsewhere cannot be labelled as basmati because it is devoid of the features and characteristics of the variety.” The question of basmati rice grown in other areas with basmati seeds and resultant produce of matching variety also needs to be examined thoroughly, he said.
The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), the Basmati Growers Association of Pakistan (BGA) and the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and the FPCCI need to work jointly for the cause without putting the entire burden on one of the organisation and collectively work for the national cause, he added.
News source: Daily Times