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Indian priest worried as US company snares Basmati rice patent

The Indian Government's failure to prevent an US company from securing the patent right for Basmati rice has anguished Church leaders and social activists of Bettiah diocese, which is known as the 'Bowl of Basmati Rice'.

Agriculturist Fr Michael told SAR News that the move will affect the livelihoods of some 300,000 Tharu tribals who are engaged in farming of Basmati rice in the region.

"The major hallmark of the Tharu tribal Basmati is that they grow it without using inorganic fertilisers and insecticides," he said.

Mr Pramod Bihari Singh, chairman of Indo-Nepal Friendship Association (INFA) which is engaged in social welfare activities among Tharus along the Indo-Nepal border, told SAR News, "Tharu Basmati rice is grown over 25,000 hectares of land in the region, but 40 percent of the produce are exported abroad. Tharu farmers benefit profusely as the rate of their Basmati rice is four-five times more then the common rice breeds… But now they would face difficulty in exporting their unique produce because of the new American patency."

Mr Singh regretted that the Federal Government, led by Hindu nationalists, is bent on "ruining the indigenous gifts of nature to India".

SAR News