THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a proud moment for Kerala Agricultural University (KAU), its Intellectual Property (IP) Rights Cell won the National IP Award 2019 instituted by Intellectual Property Office, in the category of ‘best facilitation of registration of GI and promotion of registered GI in the country’.
The cell was instrumental in getting Geographical Indication (GI) tag for nine agriculture produces of the state, taking the total number of GI registered products of the state to 25.
However, the coveted GI tag is yet to provide greater business assurance for the state’s products internationally. Though it could bring changes in the market of the products, especially domestically, as products with GI tag get premium pricing that help farmers get more return than traditional varieties, none of the products are yet to carve a niche for them in international market despite the uniqueness of their produces.
For instance, the price difference between Marayoor jaggery, known for its high quality, and ordinary jaggery in the past was merely `3-5. After Marayoor jaggery got the GI tag, the difference widened with its producers getting around `30-35 more.
Still, an export market for Marayoor jaggery is yet to evolve even though GI produces get more visibility and distinct market. This is the case with a majority of state’s GI certified produces.
To make matters worse, the government has not made any progress in adopting unique strategies for the branding and promotion of GI products or their marketing and distribution in either domestic or export markets, said farmers and traders in the sector.
KAU IP Rights Cell coordinator C R Elsy told Express it was a fact the state had to give more emphasis on the marketing and quality maintenance of GI products, apart from societies which took the initiative for registering various produces with the GI registry.
“The societies have more role than the government in the marketing and branding the produces. Farmers often won’t take the lead in foraying into the market, making use of the technology and goodwill the product generate. Their stance is they will produce more quantity of the same product and other agencies concerned should ensure premium price for the produce,” she said.
Since GI-tagged produces are confined to a particular locality, there won’t be any major industry patrons for the causes of the farmers. The farmer societies and the state government are bound to protect farmers’ interest and the legacy of the distinctive geographical characteristics of the produces. Further, government will have to provide assistance, tax breaks and awareness, along with making GI tags as brand building tools, said experts.