KATHMANDU, Jan 9: The European Union (EU) has asked Nepal to provide with necessary evidence on the country’s claim on the geographical indication (GI) right on Basmati paddy.
According to the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), the EU has set a deadline of January 25 for Nepal to submit documents to support its claim. Officials said the NARC has formed a task force under the agricultural expert Balkrishna Joshi to gather necessary evidence.
On December 10, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) had sent a letter to the EU laying its claim on the product after India sought to receive the patent right for the same agricultural product.
Joshi said the task force has started gathering evidence based on 10 categories. These include cultural aspects, DNA fingerprinting, data based on molecular technology, journals and audio and visual programs prepared on the fine rice, among others.
According to NARC, it has been found that various organizations have started conducting research on varieties of long and slender-grained aromatic rice since the 1960s. There are 34 such research papers available with the council, which will also be submitted to the EU to support the government’s claim.
According to Joshi, there are 25 variants of Basmati rice in the gene bank maintained by the NARC. Similarly, seeds of the fine rice are available at 46 community levels and about 60 rice mills operating in the country produce Basmati rice.
The record of the MoALD shows that local farmers produce Basmati rice in around 100,000 hectares of lands in a number of districts including Doti, Dhanusha and Kapilvastu. Doreli Basmati and Lalita Basmati are among the variants of the fine rice produced in Nepal.
As per the World Intellectual Property Organization, the GI secures the intellectual property right for the original producer and bars the third party from using the sign for trading. In 2018, India applied for a GI tag in the EU for Basmati rice.
Apart from Nepal, Pakistan has also opposed India’s move for getting exclusive rights for the long grained rice from the EU.