Bhut Jolokia of Nagaland
Darjeeling Tea of West Bengal
Sikkim Large Cardamom
Khasi Mandarin of Meghalaya
What Do These Names Have in Common?
These are the products listed among the 272 products (agriculture, handicrafts and textiles) which have been granted the Geographical Indication or GI Tag. Ever since Darjeeling Tea became the first GI tagged produce in India in 2004-05, a further 271 products have been added to the list so far.
What Does Geographical Indication or Gi Tag Mean?
The official definition from the World Intellectual Property Organization reads:
A geographical indication (GI) is a symbol used on products that has a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Source
A Geographical Indication therefore:
- Signifies a product that originates from a specific geographical territory or region
- Confirms that the production, processing, preparation or manufacture of such product is unique to that location.
- Attaches rights upon the specified product or products as the intellectual property of the community or producer
So How Does Gi Tagging Help?
For every ten spoonfuls that you put into your mouth, there must be at least five times when you’ve asked yourself where the food came from. But lack of information precludes your curiosity and you go on. But with GI tagged produce, you now know exactly where your food comes from and that helps you decide whether you’d like to continue or stop. A good example is the Lakadong Turmeric, which is still in the process of being GI tagged. Once it has been tagged, you as a consumer can rest assured that the product is authentic, genuine and finds it origin in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. Any other product may NOT carry the tag or the name Lakadong Turmeric as the GI tagging also offers legal protection against free market malpractices. On the other hand, this procedure also helps open up the markets for the farmers of the particular region, thereby enhancing their revenue. Where earlier middlemen and malpractitioners would have falsely tagged sub-standard products, farmers can now rest assured that their products will get first preference and fair prices.
The Trend in GI Registration in India
In the study of the list of registered GIs, an interesting trend that can be noticed is the state of origin of various registrations. The southern states in India have topped the charts in obtaining GI registrations as against the rest of the states. Karnataka leads the way with 32 GIs, followed by Tamil Nadu (27), Andhra Pradesh (13), Telengana (6) and Kerala (22).
GI Registration Status of Northeast India
As on June 2016, out of the 272 GIs on the list released by the registrar of geographical indications, Chennai, only 17 are from the Northeast (including Sikkim). The chart below illustrates the percentage-wise distributions*:
The Northeastern state-wise GI-Tagged Products from 15th September, 2003 till Date*
|Year of Registration||Geographical Indication||Category||State|
|Assam Orthodox Logo||Agriculture||Assam|
|Muga Silk Logo||Handicraft||Assam|
|2014/15||Naga Tree Tomato||Agriculture||Nagaland|
|Arunachal Orange||Agriculture||Arunachal Pradesh|
|Sikkim Large Cardamom||Agriculture||Sikkim|
|Mizo Bird Eye Chilli||Agriculture||Mizoram|
|Assam Karbi Anglong Ginger||Agriculture||Assam|
|Tripura Queen Pineapple||Agriculture||Tripura|
GI Tag from Northeast India’s Perspective
As seen from the list of registered GIs, other states have quickly grabbed the opportunity and secured GI tagging of their goods and produce peculiar to their region.
Does the Northeast have produce which qualify and can take advantage of GI tagging? The Northeast region’s biggest advantage is the rich diversity in agricultural and horticultural crops, artifacts and handicrafts.
NERAMAC or the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited, has recently managed to obtain GI tag to ten products from the Northeast. An interesting product among these is the Memang narang, a small orange found in the Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.
Did you know?
Memang narang is likely one of the ancestors of today’s cultivated citrus fruits. It is considered to be the most “primitive” citrus. Recent searches of the plant’s reported home range confirmed its presence only in Meghalaya, where it grows in the Garo Hills.”
On July 5th, 2016, Manipur’s horticulture department has taken up steps for getting GI tag for three of the state’s produce:
- Tamenglong Orange, from Tamenglong district, famous for its taste
- The rare Siroi Lily, Manipur’s state flower found only in the upper reaches of Siroi hills ranges of Ukhrul district
- Shirarakhong Chilly of Ukhrul district, which is quite unique in size, taste and colour.
Similarly, Meghalaya too is well known for its unique crops. In a recent presentation, Mr. Canning Shabong, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Department of Agriculture, Meghalaya, made mention about such unique crops:
- Lakadong Turmeric of Laskein Block
- Tomato of Jaintia Hills and Laitkynsew
- Lagun Pear of Thadlaskein
- Narwan Orange of Khliehriat and Maphu
- Indian Bayleaf of Mawsynram
- Ginger from Rongram & Bhoirymbong
- Banana from Umling
- Rice from Sung Valley, Jaintia Hills
Can some of these crops be considered for GI tagging? The question lingers and producers may contemplate such action that has the potential to impact the economy for the producers as well as the state.
Who can Apply for Registration and How?
As per the guidelines stipulated by the Geographical Indications Registry, any association of persons or producers who are established to represents the interests of the producers can apply. Individuals and associations as well can take the initiative in securing the geographical indication status for their unique products.
Zizira explorers continue with our efforts to search for unique produce of Northeast India and in the process open up markets for the traditional farmers. We are contemplating on generating awareness and building the bridge between the producer and the consumer. You can further read of our discoveries and exploratory trips or subscribe to our newsletter and join us.
Is there any produce that you think should be GI tagged?