GI tag boost for 9 Northeast products

Registration of Meghalaya's memang narang (orange) in a month's time

By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT in Guwahati
  • Published 1.04.15
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EXCLUSIVE IDENTITY: Tezpur litchi 

Guwahati, March 31: The North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited could become the first public sector undertaking in the country to receive GI (geographical indication) tag for 10 products.

The Chennai-headquartered GI office yesterday registered nine products from the Northeast and another product will also get registered in a month's time.

A source said the corporation had filed an application for getting the GI tag for memang narang (Citrus indica) and it is likely to get registered within a month's time. The corporation is waiting for a clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests.

Memang narang is a wild Indian orange, which grows in Meghalaya's Garo hills and it is the only region in the world where the fruit is found. It is believed to be the most "primitive" citrus and the ancestor of today's cultivated citrus fruits.

The plant is considered an endangered species and has very low genetic diversity. Destruction of its natural habitat poses a serious threat to the fruit even in the citrus gene sanctuary in Nokrek biosphere reserve in Meghalaya.

The nine products, which have already received the GI tag, are Karbi Anglong ginger (Assam), Tezpur litchi (Assam), Khasi mandarin (Meghalaya), large cardamom (Sikkim), bird eye chilly (Mizoram), kachai lemon (Manipur), queen pineapple (Tripura), Arunachal orange and Nagaland tree tomato.

The corporation had filed for their GI registration in 2011 and received the tag yesterday by the Chennai-headquartered GI office under the Union ministry of commerce.

"No public sector undertaking in the country has got so many GI tags to its name," a source said.

"All these nine products from the Northeast got the prestigious GI tag and we are in the process of sending certificates," Chinnaraja G. Naidu, head of the GI registry, Chennai, told The Telegraph.

Assam already has two products - muga silk and Assam orthodox tea certified as GI products. Three of Manipur's textile products - shaphee lanphee, wangkhei phee and Moirang pheejin - and Nagaland's Naga mirchi (chilly) earlier got the GI tag.

Geographical indication is a mechanism employed to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods, which possess certain special qualities or characteristics based on the climatic or production conditions unique to a geographical location.

For a product to get GI tag, the goods need to be produced or processed or prepared in a particular region. The GI tag confers legal protection, helps to prevent misuse and boosts exports.

S. Bhattacharjee, executive director of the corporation, said it is heartening news that their initiative to get GI registration and to help in branding and marketing, which was taken up four years back by the PSU with financial support of the North Eastern Council, has finally become a success.

"This will pave the way for better branding and marketing of the products both in domestic and international markets besides protecting local crops. This will also help to showcase exclusivity of these products," he said.

He said the process of registration was never easy, as in the Northeast very less documentation of products is available, which is needed for the application process.

"With perseverance and continued effort for many months, we got this success. We look forward to benefit the region through these registrations," Bhattacharjee said.