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The Hindu
The Hindu

Row over GI tag for Kala Jeera rice in Odisha’s Koraput district

The M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) at Jeypore in Odisha has raised objection to a recent advertisement published by the Geographical Indicator (GI) authorities regarding the formal granting of the GI tag to Koraput’s renowned 'Kala Jeera Rice', often referred to as the 'Prince of Rice'.

The MSSRF contended that the application for the GI tag by a private company, identified as Jaivik Shree Farmers Producers Company (JSFPC), could potentially exclude local farmers from benefits.

This allegation is based on the belief that once the GI tag is granted, the applicant company would have exclusive rights to cultivate and market Kala Jeera Rice, potentially leaving other farmers in the district without access.

“Kala Jeera Rice is an exclusive product of Koraput district and the application for the GI tag has to be done by a government agency and not by any private organisation. Once a private organisation gets the GI tag then the applicant company will be the sole beneficiary as it will get the rights for its cultivation, which will put the farmers involved in growing the variety at a disadvantage,” said Prasant Parida, the MSSRF, Jeypore, director.

“Soon we will file an objection with the GI authorities, which function under the jurisdiction of the union government,” he added.

The GI authorities have given a three-month window from the date of the publication of the advertisement for the submission of objections related to the Kala Jeera Rice GI tag.

According to Parida, while the MSSRF has worked extensively for the preservation and promotion of Kala Jeera Rice in the district, it had never applied for the GI tag as it should be done by the government to ensure that the entire farmer community is benefited by it.

“The applicant has drawn upon MSSRF’s publicly available research on Kala Jeera Rice while applying for the GI tag,” Mr. Parida alleged.

Prabhakar Adhikari, a representative of JSFPC, countered MSSRF.

He said, “JSFPC is an organisation of farmers of 14 blocks of the district and its farmers have applied for the GI tag for Kala Jeera Rice. If it gets it then the entire farmers community will be benefitted and not any single organisation”.

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