Believe GI tag will help weed out ‘cheaper and poorer-quality’ fruit from the Alphonso mango market
Traders and exporters in the State have hailed the Central government’s decision to grant the Geographical Indication (GI) tag to the ‘king of mangoes’, Alphonso, better known as ‘Hapus’ in Maharashtra.
The decision to authenticate the Alphonso from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and other parts of the State will not only boost the existing ₹500-crore trade for the fruit, but will also help it stand out in a market flooded with the “cheaper and poorer-quality” supplies from South India, the traders said.
“This is a landmark decision. It will help clear up the existing mess in the Alphonso market, in which fake South Indian products are being traded and labelled as the original Ratnagiri Alphonso,” said Sanjay Pansare, former director of the Agricultural Produce Market Committee fruit market. Mr. Pansare, who also manages the State’s leading mango trading firm N.D. Pansare and Sons, said the tag will bring in a windfall to the market in Maharashtra. “This move will help identify the authenticity of this variety of fruit. The government must now ensure they put in place a checking mechanism.”
Alphonso exporters said the tag will help establish a separate market for the fruit in future. “The Alphonso from Maharashtra has a distinct pulp, aroma, taste and features. There is no match to it even though it does not have fibre like the Hapus from the South. This is the original breed imported from Portugal and preserved in this region. The tag will now help us establish a separate new market,” said Ratnakar Laxman Karale, CEO of Alphonso trading firm Raj Impex.
A GI is an indication used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation based on it. “Such a name conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness essentially attributable to its origin in that defined geographical locality,” the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said, in its announcement on Friday.
Alphonso is in demand in domestic and international markets not only for its taste but also for its pleasant fragrance and vibrant colour. It has long been one of the world’s most popular fruits and is exported to various countries. Markets such as the U.S. and Australia have recently opened up.
The first product to get a GI tag in India was Darjeeling tea in 2004. There are 325 products from India that carry this indication, including the Mahabaleshwar strawberry, blue pottery of Jaipur, Banarasi saris and Tirupati laddus. “GI products can benefit the rural economy in remote areas, by supplementing the incomes of artisans, farmers, weavers and craftsmen,” the Ministry announcement said.