Modi Hails Dubai Trade Initiative to Promote Indian Spice

The market launch of GI-Tagged Kashmiri Saffron in Dubai, which Modi referred to, was part of a UAE-India Food Security Summit earlier this month…reports Asian Lite News

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has took note of and praised an initiative by food traders in Dubai to promote Geographical Indication (GI) Tagged Kashmiri Saffron in the UAE.

“You will be delighted to know that after obtaining the GI Tag Certificate, Kashmiri Saffron was launched in a supermarket in Dubai. Now its exports will get a boost,” Modi told Indians in his monthly radio address to the nation known as “Mann ki Baat,” which translates randomly as “Thoughts from the Mind.”

The Prime Minister said “Kashmiri saffron is globally famous as a spice that has many medicinal properties. It has a strong aroma, its color is deep dark and its threads are long and thick which enhances its medicinal value.” It is also used to cook exotic South Asian and Arab culinary dishes.

“In May this year, Kashmiri Saffron was given the Geographical Indication Tag. Through this, we want to make Kashmiri Saffron a globally popular brand,” Modi told millions of Indians who tune into his radio broadcast regularly.

“A Geographical Indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin,” according to the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). All 193 UN members are also members of WIPO, which leads the international Intellectual Property system.

The market launch of GI-Tagged Kashmiri Saffron in Dubai, which Modi referred to, was part of a UAE-India Food Security Summit earlier this month. The Summit was organized by the Consulate General of India in Dubai in association with the Confederation of Indian Industries and Invest India, the investment facilitation agency of the Indian government.

Dubai’s Al Maya Group took the initiative to promote GI-Tagged Kashmiri Saffron in the presence of Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai and Navin K. Choudhary, Principal Secretary for Agriculture in the government of Jammu and Kashmir.

Basmati export

Basmati rice, the largest agricultural product export from India, is to be refined in overseas consumer preferences with an increased share of its organic rice variety.

Outlining the multiple measures towards this goal, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry earlier said the UAE and Saudi Arabia are the major markets for Indian Basmati rice. These two Gulf countries are followed by the European Union and the US.

The move to increase production of the organic variety of this registered Indian Geographical Indication, GI, product is to be spearheaded by the Basmati Export Development Foundation. BEDF is a registered society associated with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.

The Ministry’s announcement followed the Annual General Meeting of the BEDF. The meeting decided to encourage exporters to engage in value addition and product diversification for key export markets such as the Gulf countries. It also focused on strengthening the supply chain for the export of Basmati rice.

A workshop with stakeholders for increasing the share of organic Basmati rice to be organized soon. BEDF has set up a state-of-the-art laboratory with facilities for DNA finger printing for variety identification of Basmati rice and for testing of pesticide residues, aflatoxins and heavy metals, the Ministry said.

During 2019-20 India exported 4.45 million metric tons of Basmati rice with value of $ 4,331 million. Over the last ten years, Basmati rice exports have more than doubled, the Ministry added.

 Treble food trade

The UAE and India also aim to treble the volume of their food trade in the next five years.

Speaking in the UAE-India Food Security Summit 2020 earlier this month, Punjab’s Minister for Non-Resident Indian Affairs, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, said the UAE and India are ideal partners for the food industry because his country is 70 percent agrarian while the UAE is a pioneer in food security strategy.

Dr. Ahmed Al Banna, UAE’s Ambassador to India, told the summit that the UAE has the potential to be the “gateway to the world” for India’s food and agriculture products exports. He described the subjects being discussed over two days at the summit as being “close to our hearts” and revealed that a lot of work between the two sides has been done with common goals since the disruptions of COVID-19 began.

Pavan Kapoor, India’s Ambassador to the UAE, said “India wants to work with the UAE as a reliable partner in food security” as demonstrated by the movement of crucial cargo by air throughout the pandemic.

Underlining the “immense and untapped potential” of the food sector in bilateral business, Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai remarked that UAE-India partnership in food trade can strengthen food security in the entire Middle East and North Africa region.

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