Madhya Pradesh, Punjab chief ministers spar over GI tagging of Basmati rice

Madhya Pradesh, Punjab chief ministers spar over GI tagging of Basmati rice

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has reacted strongly to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which he has urged not to allow Geographical Indication (GI) tagging of Basmati rice to the central state.

"I condemn the letter written by the Punjab government to the prime minister regarding GI tagging of Basmati rice and consider it politically motivated," Shivraj Singh Chouhan said in a tweet issued early Thursday morning.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on August 5 had written a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to allow GI tagging of Basmati rice originating from Madhya Pradesh in larger interest of state that already have GI tagging. Captain Amarinder Singh in his letter had pointed out that the country exports Basmati rice to the tune of around Rs 33,000 crore every year and GI tagging of Basmati rice originating from MP could lead to an advantage to Pakistan which also produces rice under similar tagging.

Among the states that already have GI tagging for Basmati rice that is issued under the Goods Registration and Protection Action of 1991 are Punjab, Haryana, Uttrakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Western Uttar Pradesh and some districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Taking a strong exception to the Punjab CM's reference to Madhya Pradesh in his letter, Chouhan in another tweet said, "I want to ask the Punjab Chief Minister: what animosity does he have towards the farmers of Madhya Pradesh. This is not an MP - Punjab issue but a matter related to farmers from across the country and their livelihood.

"If Madhya Pradesh gets GI tagging for Basmati rice, it will lend stability to the prices of Indian rice in the international market and this will lead to an increase in exports. 13 districts of Madhya Pradesh are producing Basmati rice since 1908 and there is a recorded history for this," Chouhan said in another tweet.

"The Basmati exporters of Punjab and Haryana are buying the same from Madhya Pradesh. The export records of the government of India prove this," Chouhan said while refuting claims made by the Punjab chief minister that the state did not fall under the specialised zone of Basmati cultivation.