The two countries dispute the basmati rice monopoly


video length: 3 minutes.

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France 2 – A. Forget, A. Védeilhé, S. Wahlah, A. Bhat, G. Baslé

French television

Basmati rice, the most fragrant, refined and most expensive, is grown in India and Pakistan. But who owns it? The two countries contested the designation with the European Union.

This is top-of-the-range basmati rice, fragrant and delicious. Europeans consume almost 400,000 tons per year. But did you know that it is at the heart of the rivalry between two historical foes, India and Pakistan? The two countries both claim a monopoly on its name. In northern India, in the heart of this fertile plain, the Satender Ahlawat family has been producing it for three generations. What is certain for him is that this cereal variety is native to his land, let alone neighboring Pakistan. “All I know is that ours are ours. And basmati rice, that’s Indian”said the rice farmer.

In Europe, Pakistani basmati predominates

This small grain of rice is the pride of the whole country. So New Delhi submitted a request to the European Union that only Indian rice could be sold under the name basmati. But 400 km from this rice-producing region of India, in neighboring Pakistan, where basmati is also grown, the dispute has irritated rice wholesalers in this village. Here basmati is profitable, if it can no longer be sold under that name, exports will fall.

In order not to let India take the monopoly, Pakistan has also made a request to the European Union. If this small cereal sowed so much discord between the two countries, it is because the name basmati sells well. Today in Europe Pakistani basmati predominates. It accounts for two-thirds of this cereal’s imports.

Serena Hoyles

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