After Puneri Pagadi, Solapur's chadar and towels, Yeola's Paithani, Alphonso mangoes of Konkan, Nashik grapes and wine now, Mahabaleshwar's Strawberries has joined the illustrious league of Geographical Indication(GI) status after receiving the registration from the Ministry of Commerce.
The strawberry mainly grown in Mahabaleshwar-Panchagani belt of Western Maharashtra region has now received, GI status and now will be recognised as "Mahabaleshwar Strawberry", brand name for the strawberry.
Earlier, All India Strawberry Grower's Association had applied for the GI status to Chennai based Geographical Indication Registry. The association confirmed the acceptance of the same on Wednesday and now the growers can market their fruit as ' Mahabaleshwar Strawberry'.
According to Geographical Indication Registry, the GI goods are defined as that aspect of industrial property which refer to the geographical indication referring to a country or to a place situated therein as being the country or place of origin of that product. Typically, such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country. Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
All India Strawberry Grower's Association's chairman Balasaheb Khilare, said, "There are over 1800 strawberry growers in Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani belt on 2000 acres and produced 20, 000 tonnes of strawberry every year. The total cost of the production is more than Rs 100 crore. The climatic condition of Mahabaleshwar is very suitable for strawberry than any other part of the country and is similar to Europe and hence, we are able to grow good quality fruits over here. The taste and sweetness of this fruit is unique."
Talking about the exports of strawberry, he said, "Earlier, we were exporting strawberry to Brazil and over 400 tonnes of strawberry was exported. But, due to highly perishable nature of the fruit, the exports were discontinued. But now, due to GI recognition we are able to export the fruit to over 153 countries in the world."
Speaking about the advantages of GI, Khilare said, " We were pursuing GI registration from last two years. We have hired an agency to complete the formalities. Due to GI. Also, it will protect the rights of the local growers.
Talking about the history of strawberry, Khilare told that the fruit has been introduced in India by the Britishers as it was their favourite hill station in summer. Later, local farmers started growing it and developed the quality. In 1994, some plants were imported and cultivated in Mahabaleshwar. From then, the farmers have developed their own brand of strawberry.