Getting GI tag for five agricultural products of Kerala will help in conservation of biodiversity and culture while providing access to larger markets.

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How did Kodangaluru become home? pottuvellari (snap melon) is the stuff of legends. It is believed that the presiding deity of the Kodangallur Sree Kurumba Bhagavathy temple threw handfuls of turmeric, paddy and black pepper on the ground from which flowers sprouted. pottuvellari Plants, fruits for hungry devotees. “It’s ours!” Says Sivadasan Polasari, A pottuvellari Farmer

It has reason to be proud – the fruit is one of the five agricultural products of Kerala to be awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) tag recently.

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Sivadasan Pollasiri (left) with his produce

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Sivadasan Polassery (left) with his produce Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Shivadasan belongs to a family that cultivates paddy. pottuvellari in Kodangaluru for more than 70 years. He has been at the forefront of the GI certification process. “The buzz around the tag has created curiosity and we have been getting a lot of enquiries,” he says, “Now people can’t misuse the name ‘Kodingalur Putuveller’. It’s a source of pride for us. ”

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gave pottuvellari The season is from December to May, which ends before the arrival of the monsoon, after which paddy is cultivated in these fields. About 200 farmers in and around Kodangaluru are engaged in cultivation of this summer fruit in 200-250 acres. Shivadasan harvests about 40-50 tonnes annually on his five-acre farm.

Among many ways, a GI tag helps a product by preventing unauthorized marketing, and giving consumers access to authentic products. “GI tagging is a beautiful thing,” says Prof. CR Lsi, former coordinator of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Cell of the Kerala Agriculture University (KAU). “When IP components are given to a product, it is an acknowledgment of the community’s right to produce as well as its uniqueness. It is a source of pride for the region.”

(Clockwise from top left) Onnatukara Allu, Kodingalur Putuvellari, Attapadi Utkumbu Awara, Attapadi Thwara and Kanthalur-Vitavada Valtholi.

(Clockwise from top left) Onnatukara Allu, Kodingalur Putuvellari, Attapadi Utkumbu Awara, Attapadi Thwara and Kanthalur-Vitavada Valtholi. | Photo credit: TH

The other four agricultural products from Kerala that have recently been awarded the GI tag are Attapadi Atkumbu. The wanderer (dolichos beans), Attapady Thawara (Red Gram), Kanthalur Vatawada Velottoli (Garlic), and Onatkara Ellu (Sesame) “Getting a GI tag benefits the farmer. It increases the demand and the market,” says Elsie, now retired, from his establishment in 2003 until his retirement in 2021. was the head of the IPR cell. Seventeen agricultural products were granted GI registration during this period.

Among the various criteria that an application for GI status warrants is the product’s history in the region. While the historical provenance of some products is well documented, that of others is not pottuvellari There were very few, most of which were based on oral literature. After some work, Elsie and her research assistant found documentary evidence of its presence in the area in the panchayat documents of the Department of Agriculture.

Vatavada garlic

This was very different in the case of Vatavada garlic, which was documented by the British planter JD Munro, who in his writings referred to the cultivation of garlic on the ‘Anchonad Hills’ (present-day Kanthalur, Keezhanthur, Kariur, Mariur and Kottakudi). Is.

Two types of garlic are cultivated. Malapondo (mountain garlic) and Sigapo Pondo (Red/Brown Garlic) – are stronger than regular garlic and have a higher oil content. They are valued for their medicinal properties. Roughly 75% of the cultivated area in Vattawada and Kanthalur is under garlic cultivation.

The barrier to obtaining a GI tag was obtaining a biochemical analysis, which was required to prove the uniqueness of the application to the GI Registry. “It took three-and-a-half years of work. The analysis could not be done here as the material required for garlic analysis was not available in Kerala. It was done at a research center outside Kerala,” Elsie explains.

Vatavada and Kanthalur garlic have not yet found a market in Kerala. However, it is in demand in Tamil Nadu, most of it is sold at Vidukappity Garlic Market, Theni, Tamil Nadu. Dried garlic sells for ₹250-₹300 in the market, with prices varying on a daily basis.

Ditto Attapadi Thawara Tamil Nadu has a thriving market, because of market access, which is near. Contrasted with red Thawara From Tamil Nadu, they are white in color, large and delicious. With about 700 hectares under cultivation, it is used both dry and as a vegetable. It is a source of nourishment for tribals as is Attapadi. The wanderer. Flat beans are mainly cultivated by tribal people, who cultivate them for their own consumption.

Mole, for the first time

Like Ontokara there are some firsts this time around. Hello It is one of the first sesame seeds in the country to get a geographical indication tag, says Dr G Soja, former project director and head of Unattakara Regional Agricultural Research Station, Kayam Kalam. He and his team worked for the GI Registry, which began in earnest in 2018. Initial meetings towards certification took place in 2013 under Elsie and her team.

Chilakktu Radhakrishnan at his sesame farm

Chilakto Radhakrishnan at his sesame farm Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Parts of three districts – Alappuzha, Kollam and Pathanamthitta, are home to brown sesame seeds and varieties of seeds produced from it. After the GI tag, the demand for these sesame seeds has increased. “There is no doubt about the health benefits of our sesame seeds. The oil extracted from the seeds is valuable for its medicinal properties. Thanks to the recognition, people now know about my Ontokara. I have been asking ElluSays Chilakktu Radhakrishnan, who grows sesame seeds as a residual crop after paddy.

Onattukara ellu

Onattukkara ellu | Photo credit: Special Arrangements

He gets a yield of about 140 kg per acre. “I am sticking to what I normally grow, I am not increasing production to meet new demand,” he adds. Suja says the cost to a farmer is ₹250 – ₹300 per kg of sesame, and oil is around ₹600 per litre.

While the GI status would not have been possible without the help of Kerala’s former Agriculture Minister, Advocate. According to VS Sunil Kumar, LC, farmers now look to the current government for help in maintaining the momentum that the tag has given to their products.

Suja and Elsy make a strong case for using the GI tag to benefit farmers to create demand, by making each product easily accessible, and adding full value. “Besides that ellu unda (balls made of sesame and molasses) or candy, it can be mixed with other things like peanut butter, for example. Our dream is to develop a processing unit or laboratory for product development,” says Soja.

Elsie capitalizes on the popularity of Marayur jaggery, Vazhakalam pineapple and Chingalikodan banana – “Look what happened to Marayor jaggery and Chingalikodan banana? The popularity grew, as demand drove up prices, which helped farmers and locals. Such recognition helps to preserve biodiversity and lifestyles.

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