Traceability shows the complete journey of how sustainably a fruit has been harvested and distributed; it can help and prevent the misuse of GI tags
In India, Geographical Indications (GI) registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act of 1999. Geographical indications are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine and spirit drinks, handicrafts and industrial products.
GI tagging is a potential tool to drive food quality and safety, considering the scale of India’s unorganised food processing industry. It helps in the implementation of a better food system that can be traced back to the producer for its authenticity.
GI-tagged products are often produced indigenously and traditionally by communities over generations. Their products are unique in nature and have a distinctive feature which has its own clientele globally and nationally.
A GI recognition using a marker gives the products an assurance of quality and authenticity to consumers and ensures a sustained livelihood to the communities that produce them. Additionally, the recognition and protection of the products and their markets allows the producers to maintain precision, authenticity and the reputation on which it was once produced.
A lot of products in India have received GI tags over the years. One of the first was Darjeeling Tea, that received a GI tag in 2004. Later, a host of items ranging from agricultural produce to handicrafts to spices and textiles, all received GI tags for their uniqueness.
The king of Indian mangoes, the Alphonso mango from Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and adjoining areas in Maharashtra, had already acquired the GI tag October 3, 2018 from the government. It is grown across the 200-kilometre-long Konkan coastline in Devgad and Ratnagiri.
However, this is not the first time that any mango has received a GI tag in the Indian market. Prior to this, the Malihabadi Dashehari from Uttar Pradesh, the Banaganapalle from Andhra Pradesh, the Appemidi from Karnataka, the Fazli, Himsagar and Laxman Bhog from West Bengal, the Jardalu from Bihar and the Gir Kesar from Gujarat have all received their GI tags.
The reputation of the Alphonso mango is unlike any other, a name that conveys an assurance of quality. Commonly known as the hapus in Maharashtra, the tagging of the Alphonso will surely protect its exclusivity and distinctiveness among the consumers in the global market.
Innoterra Tech, a Swiss-Indian food and technology platform company, has recently come up with a new innovation under which each Alphonso mango will be attached with a GI tag sticker.
The geo-tagging of the product will help the fruit to maintain its own standards in the global market. But it will also fulfil the important requirement of traceability in food systems. Traceability shows the complete journey of how sustainably the fruit was harvested and distributed.
Today, the most common practice to improve traceability is seen in the use of agricultural technology powered by blockchain technology and SaaS (Software as a Service) technologies which optimises traceability solutions.
On the other hand, traceability can help and prevent the misuse of GI tags. GI tags can further help and strengthen the certification systems currently being used in India, be it natural or organic certification.
Therefore, an organically certified product, along with a GI tag, will ensure that the product is indeed true to its value. GI tagging the Alphonso mango will also ensure that the tribal rural communities who work hard to produce it, will earn the sustained livelihood that they deserve.
In the light of the current novel coronavirus disease pandemic and growing consumer awareness, the demand for quality food has seen a surge and traceability is swiftly becoming an inevitable part of our food industry. Consumers want transparency in the system to feel secure about their food choices.
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