MSSRF Opposes GI Tag for ‘Kala Jeera Rice’ Over Concerns for Local Farmers

Controversy Arises Over GI Tag for ‘Kala Jeera Rice’ in Odisha Amidst Concerns for Local Farmers. The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), a non-profit NGO founded by renowned agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, has raised objections to the proposal of granting a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag to ‘Kala Jeera Rice’ from Koraput, Odisha. MSSRF contends that awarding the GI tag to a private entity, Jaivik Shree Farmers Producers Company (JSFPC), could potentially exclude local farmers from its benefits.

Recently, the Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai published the application for the GI tag for Koraput’s Kala Jeera rice in its journal. The application was submitted by the Koraput-based JSFPC about a year ago. Within three months of such an advertisement, opposing petitions can be filed, but once the GI application is accepted, the geographical indication is conferred.

MSSRF, based in Jeypore, has expressed concerns that if the GI tag is granted to a private company, it would gain exclusive rights to cultivate and market Kala Jeera rice, making it difficult for impoverished tribal farmers in the district to continue growing the crop.

Prasant Parida, Director of MSSRF, argued that the application for a GI tag for a product exclusive to Koraput should have been submitted by a government agency rather than a private organization. He highlighted the foundation’s decade-long efforts to conserve and promote Kala Jeera rice, ensuring that impoverished tribals benefit from it. Parida mentioned that the rice is now available on Amazon’s e-commerce platform, thanks to collaborations with organizations like Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS). MSSRF intends to file an objection with the GI authorities, which operate under the jurisdiction of the Indian government.

Koraput’s Kala Jeera rice, often referred to as the ‘Prince of Rice,’ is an aromatic variety with unique properties, including an appearance resembling cumin seeds. While the paddy is black, the resulting rice is white. It is known for its antispasmodic, carminative, antibacterial, astringent, and sedative properties. It is believed to improve memory and help control diabetes.

Muralidhar Adhikari, CEO of JSFPC, stated that his organization represents farmers from 14 blocks in the district, and the farmers themselves applied for the GI tag. He emphasized that if the GI tag is granted, it would benefit the entire farming community rather than a single organization. The JSFPC is involved in various aspects of the Kala Jeera rice business, from production to marketing, for the benefit of producers, traders, farmers, and others in the production and marketing chain.

Also Read:
Odisha Tribal Woman Farmer Raimati Ghiuria to Showcase Millet Farming at G20 Summit

Leave a Comment