[Yojana December Summary] GI Tagging of Rural Products – Explained, pointwise

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India’s multicultural ethos, authenticity, and ethnic diversity are potential turbochargers for the country’s economy. One channel through which these attributes can be brought out is Geographical Indications or GI tags.

Geographical Indications (GIs) backed up by solid business management can bring a competitive advantage, more added value to a product, increase export opportunities, and strengthen India’s image at a global level.

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What is GI Tag?

At present, the international framework on the Geographical Indications (GIs) derives its strength from Article 22 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. It defines GIs as ‘indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin’.

Geographical Indications are covered as an element of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) under Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

Read more: Growing locally: On significance of GI tags
Status of GI tagged products at the global level

Globally, an estimated 55,800 protected GIs were in existence in 2019, with maximum GIs in force in Germany (14,289) followed by China (7,834), and Hungary (6,494). On the other hand, USA and India had just 529 and 361, respectively.

GIs in force relating to wines and spirits accounted for 56.6% of the 2019 global total, followed by agricultural products and foodstuff (34.2%). Handicrafts accounted for only 3.5% of the total.

All the GIs in force in China and India are protected through national legislation, whereas the bulk of GIs in force in Australia (90.7%), Israel (99.9%), and Ukraine (99.2%) are protected through international agreements.

What is the need for the GI Act?

Earlier, an American company was given a patent for Basmati rice. India had to resort to an expensive procedure of challenging the patent in the US court of law.

This made India realise the need to protect its indigenous, unique, and reputed products through GI. This necessitated India to enact the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 in 2003 to give protection for GI through unique legislation. To facilitate this process, the Geographical Indications Registry of India was set up in Chennai.

Read more: Naga Cucumber from Nagaland gets GI tag
About the GI Tagged products in India
Source: Yojana

Darjeeling tea was the first Indian product that was awarded the GI tag in 2004 for its naturally occurring quality, flavour, and market potential. In fact, three variants of Darjeeling tea-black, green, and white have got GI tag.

Till now, 370 products have been registered as GIs by the GI Registry of India. The list comprises handicraft (214), agricultural (112), foodstuff (16), foreign foodstuff, and manufactured (14), Indian manufactured (12), and natural goods (2).

Among the states, Karnataka has the highest number of GI tags with 47 products, followed by Tamil Nadu (39).

Read more: Assam’s rice wine Judima gets GI tag
What are the government steps taken to improve GI tagged products in India?

GrapeNet: It is a first of its kind initiative in India by the Agriculture and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), Ministry of Commerce, the Government of India. It is an internet-based Residue traceability software system, for monitoring fresh grapes exported from India to the European Union.

Besides grapes, traceability initiatives have also been completed for HortiNet, Peanut.Net, Basmati.Net, Meat.Net, etc., by APEDA.

Source: Yojana

TraceNet: It works under the APEDA. The platform collects, stores, and reports forward and backward traces, as well as maintains authentic information and related data by the operators/producer groups and certification bodies within the organic supply chain in India.

New Logo and New tagline: To popularise India’s GI-tagged products and works of artisans in international markets, the government has announced a new logo for the GI products, a new tagline ‘Invaluable Treasure of Incredible India’ has been selected.

GI Stores: India’s very first Geographical Indications (GI) Store of Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI) was launched in 2019, at the departure terminal of Goa. With that success, the government is planning to open GI stores in other airports as well.

Government e-Marketplace (GeM) Startup Runway: It is an initiative of GeM to provide access to the public procurement market and sell innovative products and services to government buyers.

Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2021-2026: It recognised GI-tagged Agri commodities as one of the growth drivers in the draft export policy, which will help to gain a competitive advantage in buyer-driven global markets.

The new FTP also includes promoting ‘District Export Hubs‘ in each district and setting up district export promotion panels and preparing district export action plan to target small businesses and farmers.

India adopted Toys (Quality Control) Second Amendment Order, 2020. This exempts goods manufactured and sold by artisans and those registered as Geographical Indication (GI) from Quality Control Orders.

The government also started India’s first exclusive and largest online store of GI-tagged products.

Read more: GI tag for Thanjavur Netti and Arumbavur Wood carving
What are the challenges associated with GI Tagged products in India?

Lack of commercial performance: There is an absence of a dedicated institutional structure and a mechanism that deals with the affairs of GI products in India.

There is a gap in connecting Rural-based GI-tagged products to major urban markets, as well as export destinations.

The difference between GI and non-GI products is not fully known amongst local farmers, consumers, and other relevant stakeholders.

Value chains not developed: Except for Basmati rice, Nashik grapes, and Darjeeling tea, the value chains for most of the other GI-tagged commodities are either not developed or at a very nascent stage.

Read more: “ProrIISe Software” to automate legal process for Intellectual Property
What needs to be done to promote GI products?

The government needs to prepare a strategy to raise awareness about various GI products and the difference between GI Tagged and non-GI tagged products,

The Central Government needs to frame some long-term policy to provide Indian GI products with an assured domestic as well as international market.

Develop more GI tagged products: The government identify product-place clusters and evaluate them commercially to develop them in their entirety.

Further, implementing authorities of the One District One Product (ODOD) scheme should give due importance to crops having GI tags or having requisite characteristics for consideration as GI products.

Create enough infrastructure: The government needs to make efforts for creating required infrastructures such as customs clearance facilities, laboratory testing facilities, pack-houses, and pre-cooling facilities, which would harness and boost the exports potential of GI products.

The government may set up an incubation centre for helping users/farmers/entrepreneurs for obtaining GI and traceability solutions for their products.

Read more: GI Geographical Indications tag for Basmati Rice to Pakistan : a cause of concern for India?

Apart from these steps, India needs to start negotiations with other countries to make their markets available for Indian GI tagged products at the global level, especially agricultural products.

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