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Pakistan’s ‘Piracy’ of Indian Basmati Rice Varieties

Why is it in the news?

  • Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) and exporters have raised concerns over the unauthorized cultivation of IARI’s improved basmati rice varieties in
  • Promotional activities by Pakistani seed firms, including YouTube videos, showcase the cultivation of recently-released IARI varieties in places like Multan, Bahawalnagar, and Hafizabad.

 More about the news

  • Basmati rice exports from India have been thriving despite a decline in overall agricultural exports.
  • India anticipates reaching close to 50 lakh tonnes of basmati rice exports, valued at $5.5 billion, in the fiscal year ending March 2024.
  • However, the alleged seed piracy and unlawful cultivation in Pakistan pose a significant threat to India’s basmati rice varieties developed by IARI.
  • These varieties cover nearly 89% of India’s basmati cultivation area and have a substantial share in India’s annual basmati exports.
  • IARI varieties offer higher yields and shorter maturity periods compared to traditional basmati varieties. These varieties, known by the Pusa Basmati (PB) label, have dominated India’s basmati exports due to their superior quality and yield.

Concerns for India:

  • While Pakistan’s basmati exports are comparatively lower than India’s, the adoption of IARI varieties could pose challenges in the future.
  • Pakistan’s adoption of IARI varieties and parboiling technology may impact India’s market leadership in certain regions.
  • The cultivation of IARI varieties in Pakistan could undermine India’s basmati export market and negatively impact farmers and exporters.

Measures to be taken:

  • India should rigorously enforce legal frameworks such as the Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act and the Seeds Act to address violations of intellectual property rights.
  • Raising concerns about seed piracy and unauthorized cultivation in relevant bilateral forums and the World Trade Organization can serve as a deterrent.
  • Basmati varieties developed by IARI are notified under the Seeds Act and can only be cultivated in officially demarcated Geographical Indication (GI) areas within India.
  • India should ensure strict enforcement of GI protection to prevent the unauthorized cultivation of these varieties outside designated areas, safeguarding the integrity and exclusivity of Indian basmati.

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