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regular-article-logo Monday, 24 June 2024

Chilli earns hill-district duo GI tag, honour for ‘Dalle Khursani’ belts

A certificate by the registrar of Geographical Indications on September 14, 2021 included Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 30.09.21, 02:11 AM
A Dalle Khursani plant.

A Dalle Khursani plant. Passang Yolmo

Darjeeling and Kalimpong have got “hotter” as their famed “Dalle Khursani” or red cherry pepper chilli has earned a geographical indication (GI) tag from the Union department of industry promotion and internal trade.

Among the hottest varieties in the world, the chilli got a GI tag for Sikkim last year. However, as the chilli is grown in Darjeeling and Kalimpong as well, the GI tag has now been extended to cover these two Bengal districts.

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A certificate by the registrar of Geographical Indications on September 14, 2021 included Sikkim, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. A GI is a name or a sign given to a product that relates to a specific geographical location or origin. The tag is part of intellectual property rights under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

R.P. Gurung, director, board of directors of North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Ltd, Sikkim, said it was logical to include Darjeeling and Kalimpong, and hoped it would help farmers.

“Else Darjeeling would have to apply separately. Now, the most important issue is how do you use the tag for the benefit of the farmers,” said Gurung.

Sikkim’s inclusion on the Geographical Indications Registry was based on an application filed by the Guwahati-headquartered North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (Neramac) on behalf of the Himalayan state.

But soon after reports of Dalle Khursani getting a GI tag in Sikkim spread last year, people from different walks of life started working to get the status extended to Darjeeling and Kalimpong as well, said Vikram Rai, assistant professor, St Joseph’s College, Darjeeling.

“We worked out the genetic line of the chilli. However, we did not oppose Sikkim’s status,” said Mahadev Chettri, senior scientific officer, horticulture, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

The chilli is known to have a Scoville scale at the range of 1,00,000 to 3,50,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Units). The Scoville scale is a measurement used to trace the spiciness of chilli peppers across the world.

Many in the region swear by the distinct flavour of the chilli. “Dalle Khursani is known for its unique flavour and efforts must be made to retain this flavour. Perhaps cross-pollination has to be avoided,” said Gurung.

Apart from its flavour the product is also high in vitamin A, vitamin E, and potassium, and low in sodium. One hundred grams of fresh dalle khursani will have 240 mg of vitamin C (five times higher than an orange), 11,000 IU of vitamin A, and 0.7 mg of vitamin E.

The largest manufacturer of Dalle Khursani products is the Sikkim government-owned Sikkim Supreme, which alone procures around 50 tonnes of chilli annually.

Small scale industries in Darjeeling and Kalimpong have also mushroomed.

“Since Dalle Khursani can be preserved, I have not come across farmers going for distress sales. It fetches good prices even in the local market,” said Gurung.

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