West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking exemption on the 20 per cent excise duty levied on the special rice variety ‘Gobindobhog’.
According to the letter, “without exemption in excise duty, the exports for the particular variety of rice will be affected badly.” The chief minister has also pointed out in the letter that in the absence of relief in excise, the farmers producing this particular variety of rice, will also suffer because of lack of exports.
The chief minister has also pointed out that Gobindobhog variety of rice was extremely popular in some European and West Asian countries like the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait. According to her, the Gobindobhog variety of rice is also used for various religious occasions.
The state government too encourages the farmers to produce this variety of rice for its popularity overseas, the letter said.
The chief minister also pointed out that the Centre has recently exempted excise duty on Basmati rice and going by that logic similar relief should be allowed on Gobindobhog variety.
She also argued that since the price of the Gobindobhog variety is higher than the minimum support price (MSP), the relief in excise is necessary for the farmers to continue with the smooth production of the variety.
The chief minister also pointed out that this particular variety of rice was also awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag in 2017.
Gobindobhog is a short grain, white, aromatic and sticky variety of rice with a buttery flavour mostly cultivated in certain districts of West Bengal. The principal districts where this particular variety of rice is cultivated include East Burdwan, Hooghly, Nadia and Birbhum. This variety of rice is also cultivated in certain districts of Bihar and Chhattisgarh.