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K'taka gets highest number of GI tags

Rakesh Prakash  |  Chennai/ Bangalore 

When it comes to enhancing the brand value of geography-specific products, Karnataka has come on top.
According to a report on registration of Geographical Indications (GIs) released recently by the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, of the 61 GI products registered in the country during the last five years, Karnataka has claimed a lion's share of 23 GIs.
The latest to get the GI tag from Karnataka are Monsooned Malabar Arabica Coffee, Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee and Coorg Green Cardamom.
GI, a kind of intellectual property, are awarded to products that have some unique characteristics traceable to a particular region.
Similar to a trademark which accords exclusive usage rights and provides a shield against infringement, GIs have been defined under Article 22(1) of the Trade-Related
Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement as: "Indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or a locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographic origin."
Accordingly, only green cardamom grown in Coorg can be called 'Coorg Green Cardamom'. Similarly, only silk produced in the Old Mysore Region can be called as Mysore Silk.
In India, a GI's registry operates in Chennai in accordance with the provisions of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999, which came into effect in September 2003.
According to the Centre's report, Karnataka is followed by Tamil Nadu with 12 GI tags, Kerala with six and Andhra Pradesh with four. Maharashtra has just two GI tags.
"The lead taken by Karnataka in getting GIs for its products augments the efforts made by both the government and voluntary organisations to protect and promote the state's cultural and biological diversity. The GIs will help the state maintain exclusivity about its products," a senior state government official, who preferred not to be named as the poll code of conduct is in place, told Business Standard.
Pointing to the Monsooned Malabar coffee varieties, the official said: "These products are in great demand in the Scandinavian countries because of their unique colour and special taste, but are threatened by imitation coffee that is being pushed into the market by some foreign coffee firms. With GI certification, these unscrupulous efforts can be checked easily."
Apart from the coffee varieties, the other products from Karnataka that got approval for GI tags in 2007-08 are Molakalmuru sarees, bronze ware, Navalgund Durries and Mysore Ganjifa cards.
"We are yet to receive the GI registration certificates for these products and we hope to get them by the end of the month," the official added.
The products that got GIs earlier were Mysore silk, Mysore agarbathis (incense sticks), Bidriware (metal design), Channapatna toys, Mysore rosewood inlay, Mysore sandalwood oil, Mysore sandal soap, Kasuti embroidery, Mysore traditional paintings, Coorg orange, Mysore betel leaf, Nanjangud banana, Mysore jasmine, Udupi jasmine, Hadagali jasmine and Ilkal sarees.
This apart, the state has lined up around 40 other products for GI registration. Horticulture secretary P Ganesan, at a workshop on GIs held in Bangalore recently, had said the GI registration for nine horticulture products were expected by the end of 2008.
The agro-climatic conditions that provide for geography-specific crops in the state, the horticulture department hopes to get GI tags for another 21 products in 2009.
Some of the horticulture products waiting for GI tags are Byadagi chilli, Devanahalli chakkota, Kamalapura Red Banana, Sagar Appe Midi Mango, Bangalore Rose Onion, Totapuri Mango, Bangalore Blue Grapes and Janagere Jackfruit.

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First Published: Fri, April 11 2008. 00:00 IST