GI Tag For Riyawan Garlic, A Nod To Heritage Preservation

GI Tag For Riyawan Garlic, A Nod To Heritage Preservation

Geographical Indications serve as a stamp of authenticity and quality, highlighting the unique characteristics of products originating from specific regions

Abhijeet TripathiUpdated: Monday, April 29, 2024, 12:30 PM IST
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With the attainment of a GI tag, Indian garlic joins the ranks of 13 other spices cultivated in India that have received this prestigious designation. | Representative Pic/Pixabay

The recent conferment of a Geographical Indication (GI) tag upon Indian garlic, specifically originating from Riyawan in district Ratlam, Madhya Pradesh, has brought renewed attention to the importance and implications of GI tags in the realm of agriculture and trade. This development underscores the value of recognising and protecting the unique characteristics and heritage associated with products hailing from specific geographical regions.

Indian garlic holds a special place among spices, particularly in Asian countries like Bangladesh, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Nepal, where it is highly sought after for its distinct flavor and attributes. With the attainment of a GI tag, Indian garlic joins the ranks of 13 other spices cultivated in India that have received this prestigious designation. The GI tag, administered by the Registrar of Geographical Indications under the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, not only elevates the status of Indian garlic but also holds the promise of better prices for spice farmers.

So, what exactly does a GI tag signify, and why is it significant? Geographical Indications serve as a stamp of authenticity and quality, highlighting the unique characteristics of products originating from specific regions. Whether it's the colour of Byadgi Chilli from Karnataka or the pungency of Guntur Chilli from Andhra Pradesh, each GI-tagged spice embodies the essence of its geographical origin, making it distinct from similar products grown elsewhere. This branding not only enhances marketability but also safeguards against imitations and ensures fair recognition for farmers' efforts.

The importance of GI tags extends beyond domestic markets to the global arena, where discerning consumers seek out products with specific geographical origins. The international appeal of Malabar Pepper and the competition surrounding varieties like Alleppey Green Cardamom or Cochin Ginger highlight the economic potential unlocked by GI recognition. By leveraging geographical indications, India can position its agricultural produce as premium offerings, coveted by consumers worldwide for their authenticity and quality.

Geographical Indications, as defined under international agreements covered under Article 1(2) & 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, are covered as an element of IPRs. In the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) they are covered under Articles 22 to 24, which was part of agreements concluding the Uruguay round of GATT negotiations. Article 22(1) delineates Geographical Indications (GIs) as “indications that specify a product's origin in the territory of a member, or a specific region or locality within that territory, where the inherent quality, reputation, or other distinctive characteristics of the product can be primarily attributed to its geographic origin”.

The TRIPS Agreement prescribes standards for the safety of GI that all WTO members must provide. Part II Section 3 of the TRIPS provides the standards concerning the availability and use of GIs.

GIs play a pivotal role in safeguarding the reputation and heritage associated with products from particular regions. They ensure that the inherent qualities, whether it be flavour, aroma, or other distinctive attributes, are preserved and celebrated. The GI tag, thus, serves as a shield against imitations and counterfeit products while empowering farmers to command better prices for their premium produce.

The journey towards recognising and protecting geographical indications in India began with the enactment of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 1999. Since then, the country has made considerable strides in safeguarding its rich cultural and agricultural heritage through the registration of various products, ranging from agricultural commodities to handicrafts and textiles. Each GI tag serves as a testament to India's commitment to promoting sustainable rural development and empowering local communities.

As Indian garlic proudly joins the ranks of GI-tagged spices, it symbolises not only a triumph for spice farmers but also a reaffirmation of India's rich agricultural legacy. With each GI tag, India takes another step towards realising the full potential of its agricultural sector while preserving and celebrating the diversity of its cultural heritage.

The author is an agri-expert, independent director and corporate adviser, and has 26 years of experience in international trade. abhijeet_tripathi1@hotmail.com

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